5 Keys to a Cincinnati Bengals Victory over the Seattle Seahawks
With the bye week over and the Bengals back to work in preparation for Sunday, it's time to look at the matchup that will play out at Qwest Field, and what the Bengals need to do in order to get out with the W.
While some fans may be predicting a cake-walk over a Seattle team that flat-out stunk against the Cleveland Browns last week, it will certainly not be as easy going for the Bengals as they might think.
This road game in Seattle will prove to be pivotal in defining the 2011 squad going forward. With momentum on their side, and a conveniently timed bye week, the Bengals locker room is oozing with positivity.
A loss to the dismal Seahawks could go a long ways towards putting a large dent in the renewed confidence of this Cincy team, but on the flip side of that coin, a resounding win could start this team on a roll.
So as always, here's five keys to a Cincinnati Bengals victory.
Spread the Ball Between Leonard, Peerman and Scott
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I have to admit, I'm excited to see what Bernard Scott can do on Sunday.
With Ced Benson serving his one-game suspension this week, Scott will see a lot of work as the team's starting running back on game day.
The question is, can he do anything substantial? I'm not sure how he would fare as the team's main back. Scott doesn't have the size or strength that Benson has, and certainly won't be steamrolling any defenders any time soon.
Scott's talents lie in the field of the "change-of-pace" back. Scott is elusive, fast and able to change direction with ease, which makes him the ideal contrast to Benson's freight-train downhill running.
So while I'm sure Scott can do a lot to impress come Sunday, I would like to see him share carries with Brian Leonard and Cedric Peerman.
Peerman has a lot of the same attributes as Benson, whilst Brian Leonard seems to fancy himself as a bulldozer some weeks and Calvin Johnson other weeks.
These three guys will relish the opportunity to get carries this weekend, and if Jay Gruden can spread the running game between the three, they should be able to provide Andy Dalton with more than enough support to set up the passing game.
A Solid Performance from Dan Skuta
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With Rey Maualuga sidelined for the Seattle clash and unlikely to be back for the game in Tennessee, Dan Skuta will be stepping into his shoes as the team's middle linebacker.
Skuta did well to lead the Bengals defense on Sunday against the Colts, considering that Maualuga was only injured mid-week, significantly cutting down Skuta's preparation time for the game.
Despite that, with Skuta taking the calls from Mike Zimmer on Sunday, he managed to get the Bengals' potent defense lined up correctly and firing on all cylinders, particularly towards the close of the game.
Skuta's fairly confident showing shows just how much depth this defense has with the new rotation in place, with every guy knowing their role and playing with discipline, regardless of who's standing next to them on each down.
With two weeks to prepare himself for this game, Skuta should be more than confident in his role come Sunday, with such a great defense around him and a Seahawks offense struggling with injury, Skuta should be able to turn in a consistent performance.
Big Games from Simpson/ Green Against Seahawks Lackluster Corners
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I don't like to make assumptions based on not recognizing player names, because there's a lot of people out there who don't know a lot of the guys on the Bengals' defense, and they're playing pretty damn well.
However, with Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman starting for the Seahawks, I had to ask the question: Who are these guys?
Cincy Jungle found out the following about the Seahawks corners:
Sherman is a rookie fifth-round pick and Browner debuted in 2005 as an undrafted free agent for the Denver Broncos and then spent the next four seasons playing for the CFL's Calgary Stampeders. He was signed by the Seahawks before the 2011 season.
If you look at the guys who have had 100-plus yardage days against these backs (Victor Cruz, Mike Wallace and Julio Jones), it becomes clear that A.J. Green could potentially have a big game on Sunday.
With Benson on the sidelines, Dalton will be looking to Jerome Simpson and A.J. Green more frequently this weekend, and both have the size and strength to dominate these young corners.
Expect to see Andy Dalton throw it up, and for A.J. Green to go up and get it.
Solid Cornerback Play from Clements, Hall & Returning Jones
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Here's the key in this one: The Bengals' defense is ranked in the top five against the pass, allowing an average of 189 yards per game. That figure is more than the Seahawks offense is averaging through the air.
So will both stats continue to be true on Sunday?
Mike Zimmer has stressed a desire to improve the team's fairly solid cornerback play during the bye week, and will be hoping that Hall, Clements and co. can come up with more interceptions to boost the secondary's grand total of one for the year.
The Bengals' secondary has given up big plays on busted coverages this year, and the Seahawks will be aware of that. But with the Seahawks' QB position up in the air due to injury and Marshawn Lynch sidelined, they could be required to rely on a passing game that they are not entirely confident with, which bodes well for Cincy.
Adam Jones will make his return on Sunday, but don't expect too much from him too early. Jones showed himself to still be a real threat before being injured in 2010, and will provide solid depth for the Bengals.
He should, in time, compete with Kelly Jennings for the nickelback spot, and could provide more success than Brandon Tate in the return game too.
Discipline on Offense
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Understandably, the Bengals' offense has given up a number of silly discipline-related penalties. It's something that comes with having so many young guys on the team, and it will fade with time.
It will prove vitally important that the Bengals are all on alert this weekend as it is going to be very loud at Qwest Field, with The 12th Man doing all they can to disrupt Andy Dalton and the offense.
The likes of A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson can be a bit too eager on the line, and will need to tune out the noise and stay focused if Cincy wants to avoid these sorts of setbacks.
Similarly, this could be an issue for Scott/Dalton. Dalton struggled with communication issues between himself and Ced Benson early in the year, and it would not be surprising to see some of these take place in his first start with Scott in such a noisy and intimidating environment.