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Posts tagged with "Giovani Bernard"

Cincinnati looks to break into the win column in the unfriendly confines of Lambeau Field.

A.J. Green
 Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

Traveling to Lambeau Field for a game against the Green Bay Packers is never an easy proposition. But the task becomes even more daunting when you are a Cincinnati Bengalsteam that has dropped its first two games of the season on its own turf.

Cincinnati will try to find the formula for success that has eluded so many others when traveling to Green Bay on Sunday, September 24, 2017 for a 4:25 p.m. showdown.

Green Bay comes into the contest fresh off a 34-23 road dismantling by the Atlanta Falconsthat saw its record drop to 1-1. It also put an end to the initial optimism generated by its 17-9 win over Seattle in the Packers’ home opener.

Cincinnati, with a record of 0-2, tries to join a list of 27 other teams since 1990 who began the season at 0-2 and went on to make the playoffs. The 2003 Philadelphia Eagles are the only team in NFL history to do so after losing its first two games at home.

Sunday will mark the 13th meeting between the two teams, with the Bengals claiming victories the last three times the teams have met. All three games have been close, with the Bengals winning in Cincinnati by a 34-30 score in 2013, the last time these two teams played. The Bengals prevailed in Green Bay by a 31-24 margin in 2009 and won in Cincinnati in 2005, 21-14.

Probably the most memorable of those affairs was the 2013 contest, a game that saw the Bengals offense overcome a sloppy performance that included four turnovers and the failure to record a first down from the three-minute mark of the first quarter until early in the fourth.

Cincinnati’s defense, meanwhile, led by Vontaze Burfict, held Green Bay to 100 yards of total offense in the first half, including one of seven on third down. The Packers still managed to lead by a 30-14 margin midway through the third quarter before interceptions by Terence Newmanand Leon Hall and an A.J. Green touchdown reception helped close the gap to 30-27.

The Packers, attempting to run out the clock, faced a 3rd-and-12 from the Bengals 41-yard-line with just over four minutes remaining. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers hit Randall Cobb for what appeared to be a first down, but a Marvin Lewis challenge left Green Bay facing fourth-and-one with four minutes left.

Green Bay went for it, and running back Johnathan Franklin fumbled short of the sticks. Cincinnati’s Reggie Nelson recovered and lost the ball six yards into his return. The Bengals’ Terence Newman scooped up the loose ball up in stride and returned it 58 yards for the deciding touchdown.

Struggle has been the word of the day for the Bengals’ offense in 2017. Against the Baltimore Ravens on opening day, Cincinnati turned the ball over five times, including four interceptions, and quarterback Andy Dalton was sacked five times. Dalton had a little more success against Houston and committed no turnovers. But he was still sacked three times in the first half, and the result was another loss.

The Bengals now have a new offensive coordinator in Bill Lazor and hope to be able to get A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert more involved. Those two, along with the addition of John Ross and more consistency in a running game led by Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard, hope to get Cincinnati into the win column for the first time.

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One of the biggest problems for the Bengals last year was a lack of weapons past A.J. Green. After losing Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in free agency and watching Tyler Eifert deal with injury , Andy Dalton was too dependent on Green and it showed.

Needless to say, the Bengals quarterback is pretty excited about Cincinnati using a top-10 pick on a burner like John Ross , who Dalton called “the fastest guy in the NFL.”

“We’ve got the fastest guy in the NFL,” Dalton said. “Obviously that’s a good thing to have.

“Teams will have to know where he is because of that speed. It may level out some of these safeties who are tilting toward A.J. [Green]. Now when you’ve got a guy who can run like he can, you’ve got a big threat going deep.”

The wide receiver class in the 2017 NFL Draft wasn’t heavily heralded, but three guys ended up going in the top 10 anyway. And all three guys should have a huge impact with their respective teams.

And Ross goes really well with Green, as Dalton noted when speaking to Katherine Terrell of ESPN. If defenses spend a ton of effort trying to push coverage toward Green, who is one of the four or five best wideouts in the entire league, the Bengals can send Ross screaming up the other sideline.

Ross is more than just pure speed, though. He’s also an impressive route runner and a guy who can do some damage in the red zone as well.

Combine him with Green, the running back trio of Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard and rookie Joe Mixon, Eifert at tight end and Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd providing more depth/talent at wide receiver and there are no excuses for Dalton this year when it comes to weapons. Assuming all of those guys are healthy — Eifert is a question mark and Ross is dealing with some injuries even coming into the NFL — the Bengals did a really nice job reloading on offense and if the offensive line can protect Dalton, this could be a sneaky dangerous unit.

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