What to Expect from Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals Offense in Week 7 Matchup

Andrew Dunn@atdu222Correspondent IIOctober 16, 2013

ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 13: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass during NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 13, 2013 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Heading into Week 7, both the Cincinnati Bengals and the Detroit Lions sit atop their respective divisions.  Both teams are 4-2 and coming off wins in Week 6.

For Cincinnati, they will stay on the road as they head to Detroit this weekend, one week removed from slipping away from Buffalo with their first road win of 2013.  The offense clicked for a good portion of the game, making up for a defensive breakdown deep in the game.

As the Bengals face a potential playoff contender in the NFC and try to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the AFC North, what will be some key offensive factors for what should be a battle of offenses.

Andy Dalton—a repeat performance from Week 6 is in the making.

A lot of criticism has surround the Bengals' third year quarterback, Andy Dalton, this season.  Despite mounting speculation about what's to come of him at the season's end, the Red Rifle was a huge tool in Cincinnati's win against Buffalo.  He threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns, by far his best game of the season.

Dalton is in a good situation for a passer, as Detroit has a questionable secondary.  Chris Houston and Darius Slay will be the corners in control of guys like A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu, and Marvin Jones—no disrespect to Slay or Houston, but they aren't household names.

More to the point, the Lions are 21st in the league against the pass, allowing just over 268 yards per game.  So, if Dalton's throws are on point, I don't expect the defenders to over power or out-quick the Bengal receivers.

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 22: Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions tries to get through the blocks of Ryan Wendell #62 and Dan Connolly #63 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter during a pre season game at Ford Field on August 22, 2013 in Detr
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Dalton's true test is how he handles pressure from the Lions' front four.  Like Cincinnati, Detroit's front four is probably the best unit on the team.  Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Willie Young, and rookie Ezekiel Ansah make up a very powerful and fierce blitzing attack.

The four have combined for nine sacks this season.  It will be interesting to see how well they can be contained by the Bengals' offensive line seeing as how effective they've been for the most part in 2013.  Andrew Whitworth, now back from his offseason injury, looked very good against Buffalo and will likely be responsible for containing Ansah.

In the end, I expect Dalton to have another 300+ yard performance.  He will take some hits in the process, but he's good enough to outwit the Lions' coverage and get the ball to his receivers.

Rookie Giovani Bernard continues to earn more time than BGE.

It's good for Cincinnati to have BenJarvus Green-Ellis—he's the power back that will wear down defenses and punch the ball in from the one.

As time has gone by this season, we've seen more and more time from the speedy rookie, Giovani Bernard.  Early in his career, Bernard has shown an uncanny ability to elude defenders when it's seemingly impossible to do so.  

Plus, Bernard is tremendously more useful in the passing game than the Law Firm has ever been.  He caught six passes for 72 yards against Buffalo last week, including a touchdown catch that didn't seem possible when he caught the ball.

What we're seeing, and the reason Bernard gets more and more time, is the simple fact that he makes people miss, whereas' Green-Ellis is not.  BGE will run into guys and usually, through at least one.  This season, he's struggling to make the same impact, but Bernard is not.

Like Dalton, both backs are going to struggle to deal with the Lions' front four, but it doesn't get easier across the middle for the runners.  Linebackers Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy are each approaching 50 tackles already and are solid tacklers.  

Bernard has yet to break 100 yards on the ground and I don't expect this to be the week—but I see another touchdown catch in his future and Green-Ellis should be able to drive past the Lions' line to get a score of his own.

Bengals' receivers should outclass Lions' defenders.

As I mentioned before, the Lions' secondary really isn't anything to write home about.  This should mean a huge game for star receiver A.J. Green.

Make no mistake, he's going to be double and possibly triple teamed.  However, Green is faster and stronger than Houston and Slay, so this isn't going to be one of those battles he's had over the last couple season with Ryan Clark or Joe Haden.

Mohamed Sanu isn't necessarily faster, but his physicality makes him standout against any secondary.  While Green will have a big game, I expect this game to be the best Sanu has to date.

Sep 22, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones (82) celebrates with a teammate after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TOD
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The new x-factor of the Cincinnati Bengals, though, and the guy to keep an eye on is Marvin Jones.  He made a few huge plays against Buffalo and used his speed to his massive advantage.  Jones is used in a variety of ways, including the passing attack and on the ground.

While the receivers should dominate the secondary, I worry about Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert.  They've both been rather quiet for a couple weeks now, and it's worth pointing out that Lions' linebacker DeAndre Levy has four interceptions this season.  

With the linebackers keeping an eye on the tight ends, they may continue to struggle to be as useful as the Queen City had hoped.  

In the end, Cincinnati is going to put up a 30-point performance, taking down the Lions in Detroit, 37-21. 


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