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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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Key players for this week will be those taking on more responsibility while the Packers heal.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

We at Acme Packing Company know that last week was rough. We’ve discussed it ad nauseum and injuries seem to just be as continuous as ever. Let’s find some bright side here and talk about the potential impact that some key players can have to help secure the Packers a win against Cincinnati.

Quinton Dial

Dial is listed behind Mike Daniels on the depth chart and could be looking at some extra reps during the game Sunday. Daniels is listed as doubtful so Dial or Kenny Clark will have a spotlight on them to take over the defensive line. The Bengals haven’t been able to score a touchdown in the first 2 weeks and I anticipate that they will be desperate to find the endzone.

The Bengals have allowed 8 sacks so far on the season and their line play isn’t getting any stronger. Dial is a strong run defender and can help eat up blockers inside so the pass rushers can do some damage.

Kevin King

Sticking on defense, Kevin King could be in for a bigger role in this game and in the future. King was able to put in pretty good reps against Atlanta’s Julio Jones last week. Matt Ryan was 0-4 when targeting Jones with King covering him. The Packers may need Kevin King to use his large 6’3” frame to help put the clamp on the Bengals’ A.J. Green.

Like Jones, Green is another big wide receiver that commands a lot of targets and attention. New offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor, may target A.J. in the offense early and often with redzone target, Tyler Eifert, and speedster, John Ross out.

Ahmad Brooks

Sticking on the defensive side of the ball, I’m looking at Ahmad Brooks. It’s unknown how long linebacker Nick Perry will be recovering from his recent hand surgery. Brooks, who missed the game against Atlanta with a concussion, is technically listed as Clay Matthews’ back up, but I don’t anticipate that keeping from Dom Capers sliding him over to the opposite side.

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The Bengals could use another playmaker on offense, and Corey Davis is certainly worth a top-10 selection.

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

With all the pressing needs Cincinnati has, it would seem like taking receiver in the top 10 would be out of the question.

However, Corey Davis is the kind of receiver who can upgrade any passing game, including a Bengals offense that relies far too heavily on A.J. Green without much support from others.

And while spending a first-round pick on someone from Western Michigan of all places seems like a reach, Davis isn’t just a small-school receiver torching bad competition. As a true freshman in 2013, Davis set school freshman records with 67 grabs for 941 yards (14.0 avg.) to go with six touchdowns. As a sophomore in 2014, he had 78 catches for 1,408 yards (18.1 avg.) and 15 scores.

During his junior year in 2015, Davis had 90 catches for 1,436 yards (16.1 avg.) and 12 scores. He had the chance to go pro and be drafted, but he wanted to come back and boost his stock enough to be a first-round selection, which he is now all but guaranteed of accomplishing.

This past season, Davis caught 97 balls for 1,500 yards (15.9 avg.) and 19 more scores. Against Toledo on Nov. 25, Davis became the all-time FBS leader in receiving yards. Putting up these kinds of numbers on any level of college football is impressive, and Davis is someone the Bengals should take a hard look at in this week’s draft.

Here is why the Bengals should take Davis with the No. 9 pick:

  • Davis is the most completely receiver in this draft, and he would give this offense a big shot in the arm after it took a step back last year.
  • Davis is the superior route runner to Mike Williams and John Ross, two other receivers getting hype for top-10 selections.
  • It’s no secret that Andy Dalton is one of the weaker-armed starting quarterbacks in the NFL, and he needs guys who can win in the short-to-intermediate routes, which is where Davis does his damage.
  • Brandon LaFell is not the long-term answer as the No. 2 receiver, something Davis would quickly become.
  • Davis is also great winning 50-50 balls, something this receiver group needs more of other than Green.
  • It’s possible Davis is the best player available when Cincinnati goes on the clock, and the BPA approach is often the right one.

Here is why the Bengals should pass on Davis:

  • The Bengals have far more pressing needs than another receiver, especially this high.
  • LaFell, Tyler Boyd and Cody Core showed they can be reliable options next to Green, so there’s no need for Davis.
  • that’s not even accounting for Tyler Eifert, who is like a No. 2/3 receiver in this offense, making it even harder for Davis to have a big role.
  • The one thing this receiver group could use is more speed, but Davis doesn’t offer that anymore than what’s already there.
  • Davis is also recovering from ankle surgery that could limit his availability in OTAs and training camp.
  • He’s had nagging injuries throughout his career, and it’s not like the Bengals have great luck with banged-up players coming into the NFL either.
  • This draft has enough quality wide receivers that the Bengals can get a good contributor in Rounds 2-3, and in this offense, it’s hard for any receiver to be anything more than a ‘good contributor’ when playing second fiddle to Green.

In the end, Davis is a nice player worthy of a top-10 pick, but he just doesn’t move the needle with this Bengals team as much as other guys at this pick would.


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