Bengals vs. Seahawks Game Guide: Lineups, Matchup Breakdown, Injury Report

Darin PikeContributor IOctober 28, 2011

Bengals vs. Seahawks Game Guide: Lineups, Matchup Breakdown, Injury Report

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    The Cincinnati Bengals will visit the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday in what many believe will be a low-scoring victory for a team that boasts a top-five defense.

    Fans who follow the NFL closely know that the Seahawks should never be counted out at home. That is even more true when compounded with a closer look at the Bengals' performances so far this season.

    Cincinnati's wins came over teams with a combined record of 9-16. Granted, they did have an impressive win over the Buffalo Bills, but they simply beat teams (5-14 combined records) that they should have beat in their other three games.

    This is a little more than can be said for the Seahawks. Seattle dropped a game in Cleveland they should have won, and had a close loss to the Falcons that could have easily gone the other direction.

    Much is being made of the Bengals defense, which ranks fifth in yards allowed, both rushing and passing. On its face it is quite impressive.

    Upon further review, though, their performances are much closer to average than elite.

    The Bengals are only surrendering 189 net yards per game through the air. However, their opponents are only averaging 188 yards per game, which would rank them 27th as a collective team. Cincinnati is surrendering exactly what would be expected of an average pass defense.

    Their most impressive performance was against the San Francisco 49ers. Cincinnati held them to just 50 yards, 81 yards below their average. However, as of Week 3 when this contest was held, the 49ers had been struggling on the ground in a new offense with new blocking schemes.

    The rushing side of the equation is a little more impressive. The Bengals are allowing 89.5 yards per game and just 3.3 yards per carry (third). Their opponents are gaining 116 yards per game, which ranks their rushing attack 15th.

    San Francisco also made a change on their offense line, replacing Chilo Rachel with Adam Snyder. This helped a team that averaged under 70 yards per game in their first three games (including the Bengals) run for 164, 213 and 203 (193 average) in their next three games.

    The Bengals do have a solid run defense, and they could challenge a Seattle offensive line that has struggled so far this season. Their pass defense is suspect, though.

     


Cincinnati Bengals Starting Offense, Defense

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    The big news for the Cincinnati Bengals is that Cedric Benson will be serving his one-game suspension this week.

    This could be an ideal game to be without their starting running back, though. The Seattle Seahawks have the stingiest run defense in the NFL, allowing just 3.1 yards per carry.

    Some pressure will fall on Bernard Scott to find some holes in the Seahawks' defense. However, the bulk of the expectations will be on rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. It will be interesting to see how they respond when the game looks to be placed on their shoulders.

    Another issue that can't be overlooked is that the Bengals are banged-up at linebacker. The heart of their defense, MLB Rey Maualuga, is out with an ankle injury. He was leading the team in tackles prior to missing last week's game vs. the Colts.

    The Bengals could also be without their weak-side starter, Thomas Howard, who is working through a hamstring injury. He was second on the team in tackles before last week's game. As heralded as the Bengals rush defense is, it could take a big step back without both of these starters.

    Rush Def

    Opponent

    YPG

    Rank

    Vs. CIN

    Variance

    Week 1

    Cleveland

    91

    29th

    83

    -8

    Week 2

    Denver

    114

    16th

    131

    17

    Week 3

    San Francisco

    131

    6th

    50

    -81

    Week 4

    Buffalo

    141

    4th

    83

    -58

    Week 5

    Jacksonville

    124

    10th

    96

    -30

    Week 6

    Indianapolis

    94

    25th

    94

    0

    Avg:

     

    116

    15th

    90

    -27

    The Bengals secondary has held its own against their opponents, but they've only played one team with a passing offense ranked higher then they are (20th). Seattle has had an off-and-on passing offense, but that could change this week.

    When considering the strength of their opponents, the Bengals' pass defense is actually slightly below average.

    Pass Def

    Opponent

    YPG

    Rank

    Vs. CIN

    Variance

    Week 1

    Cleveland

    217

    22nd

    202

    -15

    Week 2

    Denver

    190

    26th

    187

    -3

    Week 3

    San Francisco

    171

    31st

    176

    6

    Week 4

    Buffalo

    238

    15th

    190

    -48

    Week 5

    Jacksonville

    128

    32nd

    200

    72

    Week 6

    Indianapolis

    186

    27th

    179

    7

    Avg:

     

    188

    27th

    189

    19

     

    Pos.

    Offense

     

    Pos.

    Defense

    QB

    Andy Dalton

     

    SS

    Chris Crocker

    RB

    Bernard Scott

     

    FS

    Reggie Nelson

    FB

    Chris Pressley

     

    LDE

    Robert Geathers

    WR1

    Jerome Simpson

     

    NT

    Domata Peko

    WR2

    A.J. Green

     

    DT

    Geno Atkins

    RT

    Andre Smith

     

    RDE

    Michael Johnson

    RG

    Bobbie Williams

     

    SLB

    Manny Lawson

    C

    Kyle Cook

     

    WLB

    Thomas Howard-Q

    LG

    Nate Livings

     

    MLB

    Dan Skuta

    LT

    Andrew Whitworth

     

    RCB

    Leon Hall

    TE

    Jermaine Gresham

     

    LCB

    Nate Clements

Seattle Seahawks' Starting Offense and Defense

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    Starting right guard Robert Gallery has continued his trend over the last few seasons of missing games with injuries. He started last Sunday and was healthy for the first time this season. After a rocky start in the games he had played in, Seahawks fans finally saw the blocker they were hoping Seattle had acquired.

    Seattle wasn't quite so fortunate at center last week. Max Unger missed the start with a foot injury, but Lemuel Jeanpierre filled in fairly well in his first NFL start. Unger was a full participant in practice and is expected to be back and close to full strength.

    Despite troubles on the offensive line, this looks to be the first game the Seahawks have lined up five healthy starters. Russell Okung also had an ankle injury and missed the preseason. He is looking healthy, so this could be the breakout game for Seattle's offensive line.

    Jackson has been throwing the ball much better this week with his pectoral strain. He is still limited in practice and Charlie Whitehurst has been taking most of the first-team snaps again. Pete Carroll said the starting quarterback will be a game-time decision.

    If Jackson isn't too sore from throwing sessions on Thursday and Friday, and there are no real threats to making the injury worse, expect him to get the start on Sunday. The Seahawks offense struggled last week with Whitehurst at the helm, and Seattle can't afford to drop this game at home.

    Seattle should be much better off at tight end on Sunday, too. Zach Miller has returned to full practice following neck and head issues, and Cameron Morrah was activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list for last Sunday's game.

    Anthony McCoy has had significant issues filling in this season and his roster spot could be in jeopardy as the Seahawks look to activate Roy Lewis (cornerback) and Deon Butler (receiver) from the PUP list over the next week. Seattle will have some difficult roster decisions to make.

    The starting lineup projects as follows:

    POS

    Offense

     

    POS

    Defense

    LT

    Russell Okung

     

    LDE

    Chris Clemons

    LG

    Robert Gallery

     

    DT

    Alan Branch

    C

    Lemuel Jeanpierre

     

    DT

    Brandon Mebane

    RG

    John Moffitt

     

    RDE

    Red Bryant

    RT

    James Carpenter

     

    OLB

    K.J. Wright

    TE

    Zach Miller

     

    MLB

    David Hawthorne

    WR

    Mike Williams

     

    OLB

    Leroy Hill

    WR

    Sidney Rice

     

    LCB

    Richard Sherman

    QB

    Tarvaris Jackson

     

    RCB

    Brandon Browner

    RB

    Marshawn Lynch

     

    SS

    Kam Chancellor

    FB

    Michael Robinson

     

    FS

    Earl Thomas

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Seattle Seahawks: Key Matchups When Cincy Has the Ball

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    This game could very well come down to the Bengals' ability to throw the ball on the Seahawks defense. Rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green have stepped up very well so far, but could be facing their toughest challenge to date.

    The Bengals have played a defense as good as Seattle. But they haven't had to deal with a strong defense with big corners and heavy crowd noise.

    Not only will the Seahawk defense feed off the crowd's energy, but the offensive line will lose their jump off the ball when they can't hear the snap count.

    Seattle has been very good at applying pressure to the quarterback, and allowing Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock to get off the ball at the same time as the offensive line will make life tough on Andy Dalton.

    The Bengals will also likely struggle in the run game, just like every team that has played the Seahawks before them.

    The Seahawks' safeties have been very good in run support, but not for the reasons some believe. Dave Lapham, Bengal's radio analyst, has said Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas impact the run game because Seattle brings them down into the box.

    What he doesn't realize is that it's the speed and play-recognition of the best young safety tandem in the NFL that allows them to be so effective in run support. They will offer help over the top on A.J. Green, and can help clean up the ground game should a running back make it through the linebackers.

    Early in the season I spent a fair amount of attention on the Seahawks' use of their cornerbacks. Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley was reluctant to move Marcus Trufant and Brandon Browner from side to side to maintain player match-ups, and by reluctant I mean he simply didn't do it.

    I had asserted it was a health issue with Trufant, as they didn't seem to want Trufant approaching the play leading with his right shoulder.

    When Trufant started to miss time due to injury, Seattle was more willing to move their corners around. With the 6'4" Green coming to town, one has to wonder if 6'4" Brandon Browner will be attached to him on most every play.

    This seems to be the best approach to neutralize Green; press him at the line and short routes, and have dedicated safety help over the top.

    Regardless, the 6'3" Richard Sherman should have the speed, size and agility to match up with Green, too. The two will also share coverage on Jerome Simpson at 6'2".

    This figures to be a low-scoring game for the Bengals' offense, which will pressure their defense to control the pace of the game.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Seattle Seahawks: Key Matchups When Seattle Has the Ball

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    The biggest impact for the Seattle Seahawks offense will likely be the return of Tarvaris Jackson. While he may not be a huge offensive weapon, he has played better that Charlie Whitehurst. 

    Despite a lot of national criticism, Jackson has been performing better than the bottom-third of the quarterbacks in the NFL this season. He provided Pete Carroll with the game manger he claims to want, and can make plays with both his arm and his legs.

    The biggest change for Seattle could actually be on their offensive line.

    So far this season, they've had players out of position and playing hurt in every game.

    While Unger will likely be marginally hobbled, Robert Gallery returned last week and looked healthy for the first time this season. Russell Okung is starting to show flashes of the player Seahawks fans saw last season, and James Carpenter and John Moffitt are at least providing solid run blocking.

    This game will be a solid indicator of what the Seahawks can expect from their offensive line for the rest of the season. The Bengals aren't known for applying a lot of QB pressure, and have just 14 sacks on the season.

    Look for Seattle to return to a focus on the run this week.

    Marshawn Lynch will most likely be back from injury, and Leon Washington showed last week that he can pick up yards. Yes, the Bengals have been stingy against the run, but losses at the linebacker position could make life easier for the Seahawks running the ball.

    Even if ground yards are difficult to come by, look for the running backs to be active. If Thomas Howard isn't able to play, look for Seattle to use Lynch, Washington and Justin Forsett in screen and swing passes.

    Seattle is also healthy at tight end for the first time this season.

    Zach Miller will be starting with Cameron Morrah available in two tight end sets. Throw Sidney Rice and Mike Williams onto the field, and the Seahawks have four pass-catching threats at 6'4" and above.

    The Bengals' starting corners will be somewhat over-matched height-wise.

    Leon Hall is listed at 5'11", but then again, so is another corner that we'll get to in a minute. Nate Clements, whom the Seahawks brutalized on their home turf last season when he was with the 49ers, is listed at 6'0".

    The Bengals will have issues in their nickel package.

    They'll bring in a player Seahawks fans have seen surrender a lot of big plays to big receivers. Yes, Kelly Jennings (he's closer to 5'4" than the Bengals' stated 5'11") makes his return to Seattle.

    While Kris Durham has only been active for one game this season, this would be the perfect time for Seattle to suit him up. He would likely spend a fair amount of time across from Jennings and could have a monster day.

    Most analysts see this being a low-scoring game, and they could be right.

    However, I wouldn't bet an under on this game; the Bengals could be thin at LB, and their corners will have tough match-ups with the size and athleticism of the Seahawks' receivers.

    If Jackson starts, or if Whitehurst can find some accuracy with his passes, Seattle could have a breakout performance.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Seattle Seahawks: Injury Report, Inactive Players

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    Cincinnati Bengals  at  Seattle Seahawks
     
    Name Position Injury Practice Status Game Status
    Cincinnati
    Cedric Benson RB Suspension Out
    Rey Maualuga LB Ankle Did Not Participate  Out
    Thomas Howard LB Hamstring Limited Participation  Questionable
    Kelly Jennings CB Hamstring Full Participation  Probable
    Nate Clements CB Knee Limited Participation  Probable
    Dan Skuta LB Groin Limited Participation  Probable

     

    Seattle

    Atari Bigby S Hamstring Did Not Participate  Doubtful
    Brandon Browner CB Not Injury Related Did Not Participate  --
    Jeron Johnson S Ankle Did Not Participate  Questionable
    Kam Chancellor S Knee Full Participation  Probable
    Marshawn Lynch RB Back Full Participation  Probable
    Zach Miller TE Neck Full Participation  Probable
    Max Unger C Foot Full Participation  Probable
    Tarvaris Jackson QB Pectoral Limited Participation  Game-Time