In anticipation of Sunday’s game between the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals, I got together with Stripe Hype’s Jason Marcum for a quick Q&A.
1. How would you assess the Bengals season so far?
Up and down. They’ve beaten two teams considered elite in the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers, but have also lost to a below-average Cleveland Browns team, as well as nearly losing to the Buffalo Bills. The Bengals have been playing to their competition, and that means they should be focused and prepared to play Sunday vs a good Lions team.
The strength of this team is in their defense, but they’ll face their toughest test Sunday vs a Lions offense in Detroit. The offense is up and down, due in large part to the play of Andy Dalton, who can have a great game like last week, only to follow it up with an abysmal performance. If he can be more consistent, this team could be a threat in the playoffs, but if his play continues to resemble a roller coaster, they’ll struggle to even make it to the postseason.
2. The Bengals were a chic pick as a contender in the AFC before the season began but is Andy Dalton good enough for them to make a run to the AFC Championship Game or Super Bowl?
No. Simply put, he doesn’t have the arm strength to hit the deep-throws consistently, nor is he consistent enough in the short-intermediate passing game right now to make up for that.
3. What do the Bengals need to do to win on Sunday?
Run the ball well, covert third downs, and win the time of possession battle. The Lions are as good as an offense the Bengals have faced, and playing in Detroit, they need to have long, productive drives to quiet the home crowd while limiting the big-play opportunities of the Lions’ offense.
4.What do the Lions need to do to win on Sunday?
Stop the run and force the game onto Andy Dalton’s shoulders. That allows the Lions defensive line to terrorize him and Dalton takes a lot of sacks. The Lions must also play their corners close to the line of scrimmage, as the Bengals like to utilize the short passing game and rely on their receivers to rack up yards after the catch.
5. What is your prediction for the game?
It’s a road game against a team that has a lot of favorable matchups against the Bengals. While I Believe Cincinnati is a better team and has more balance on offense and defense, the Lions at home with Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush and the emerging Joseph Fauria will force Cincinnati into a shootout, and they haven’t shown me they have the horses on offense to keep up with a game that goes into the high 20s-30s.
Lions win, 27-24
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