Silver and Black Pride keeps rolling on with our 2018 Opponent Breakdown series, and one of the last teams we have to cover are the Cincinnati Bengals. The last time Oakland played the Bengals was the infamous game in 2015 where Adam Jones slammed Amari Cooper’s head into the ground and Derek Carr was knocked out of the game. Will this year be sweet revenge for the Silver and Black?
As everyone knows, the Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1990, a streak of 27 consecutive years without a postseason victory. That’s awful, and for most of that streak they were the laughingstock of the NFL. In recent years, they have been far more respectable, and are now more like the Chiefs, a team that can make the playoffs in a good year but can’t win when they get there.
Cincy’s quarterback is the Red Rifle, Andy Dalton, for whom the Dalton Line is named. If you are above the Dalton Line, you are a good quarterback. If you are below the Dalton Line, you are not. If you are at the Dalton Line, you are Andy Dalton.
Key Additions: LT Cordy Glenn, MLB Preston Brown, RT Bobby Hart, S Jessie Bates, DT Chris Baker, C Billy Price
Key Departures: QB AJ McCarron, RB Jeremy Hill, C Russell Bodine, OT Andre Smith, LB Kevin Minter, P Pat Huber
NFL.com Power Poll: #28
2017 Total Offense: #32 at 280.5 YPG, scoring offense #26 at 18.1 PPG
2017 Total Defense: #18 at 339.1 YPG allowed, scoring defense #21 at 21.8 PPG allowed
Bengals C Billy Price vs. Raiders DT Maurice Hurst
When we last saw these two face off, it was last November in the Ohio Steak vs. Michigan game. Price and the rest of the Buckeye offensive line dominated, and Hurst was held to just three tackles and no sacks in a 31-20 Steak victory.
Price, however, tore a pectoral muscle on the bench press at the NFL Combine and hasn’t been a full participant in football activities since then. He did run a few drills at Bengals OTAs and expects to be ready for training camp. He is expected to be the Bengals’ starting center this year. Hurst will have to do a much better job against Price this time around.
Bengals WR AJ Green vs. Raiders CB Gareon Conley
For the last several years, the Bengals’ entire offense has been AJ Green. Perhaps no other wide receiver means as much to his team as Green does. He’s been able to consistently put up huge numbers with mediocre quarterback play.
It will almost certainly be up to Conley to shut down Green in this game. He’s the only one with the speed and length to hang with Green, one of the most dangerous weapons in the game. Without a reliable second receiver and with Tyler Eifert’s availability in perpetual doubt, Green will be a huge part of the Bengals’ game plan.
Raiders offensive line vs. Bengals pass rushers
The Bengals have the luxury of having three elite pass-rushers on their defensive line. DEs Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap have the ability to disrupt games on their own, and DT Geno Atkins is one of the best pass rushers at his position. It will be up to the Raiders’ magnificent interior line as well as the tackles, Donald Penn and whomever wins the RT job, to slow them all down long enough for Derek Carr to connect with his receivers.
We all know by now that the Bengals will never go anywhere as long as Marvin Lewis is the head coach. But we also know for a fact that the Bengals have been as good as they are for so long because of their defense, coached by Mike Zimmer and then Paul Guenther. As soon as Zimmer went to Minnesota, the Vikings became the best defense in the NFC. Guenther is now on the Raiders, and we’ll see if he makes a similar impact on our team as Zimmer did on his.
The Bengals’ new DC is Teryl Austin, who spent the last four years as the defensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions. The next time the Lions win a game because of their defense will be the first since the days of Dick “Night Train” Lane, so I’m not sure Austin will be a step up from Guenther.
The Bengals were absolutely putrid last year on offense and didn’t seem to make the sort of changes which would make a big difference. The Browns might be better this year. If the Raiders can hold their own against Cincy’s pass rush, this should be a win for the Silver and Black on the road in Week 15.