Week 3 Preview: Packers Look For First Win Since 1998 Over Winless Bengals
5 interesting facts to think about during the game
1. Lambeau Field’s home field advantage is back. With a win Sunday, the Packers can win their first two home games for the fifth consecutive season and for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. It's part of a larger stretch where Green Bay has won 20 of their last 25 regular season games at Lambeau Field.
2. The Packers have yet to score in the second quarter this season, and have only scored 7 points in the first half.
3. It's been 19 years since the Packers have beaten the Bengals. Green Bay's last win over Cincinnati came in September 1998, when the Mike Holmgren-led Packers squeaked out a 13-6 win thanks to a Robert Brooks touchdown catch.
4. Don't be quick to dismiss Green Bay's loss to Atlanta. The Packers are still top 10 in both offense (7) and defense (8) in the NFL based on yardage. They’re the only team in the league with a top 10 offense and defense.
5. Through the first two weeks of the season, the Bengals pass defense has been stingy. Cincinnati has the top pass defense in the NFL in terms of yardage, allowing an average of 104.5 yards per game.
Who Could Be an X-Factor in Sunday’s Game?
Jon says Aaron Rodgers
When you have an MVP-caliber quarterback, you rely on him to carry you through tenuous times. The Packers are in one of those tenuous times right now, facing a depleted roster and a 1-1 record.
Certainly a loss in Atlanta isn't the end of the world. The Falcons, after all, were favored to win the game. But it does lower the margin for error for the season, especially in games like this weekend's match-up with Cincinnati.
If the Packers were to stumble against the Bengals, a team they should beat, then the calculus for the entire season changes. Rodgers can do a lot to prevent that sort of situation with a good performance on Sunday, and hopefully the rest of the team will follow suit.
Gary says Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Green Bay has yet to intercept a pass so far this season, and has forced only one turnover through two games. The Packers' normally turnover-happy defense has faced two of the league's best offenses at limiting turnovers (Seattle and Atlanta), but the Bengals are a different story.
While the Packers continue to tinker with their "nitro" defense, safety Morgan Burnett continues to play in different positions across the field. That's why I've keyed in on the Packers' other talented safety, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, as my player to watch this week.
Clinton-Dix emerged last season as one of the game's best young defense talents, and has started this season with a steady performance. While his best games have come against NFC North opponents, I think we'll see the former first round pick make a few game-changing plays against the AFC North's Bengals.
What Happened the Last time the Packers and Bengals Played?
The Packers and Bengals last met in Week 3 of the 2013 season. It was nuts. Let's have a rundown of some of the things that happened:
Giovanni Bernard scored a crazy touchdown.
Jeremy Ross ended his career in Green Bay with another botched kick return (hi Mike Daniels!)
Jermichael Finley was drilled in the head and neck on a crossing route and left the game with a concussion, a grim foreshadowing of the hit that would end his career a month later.
M.D. Jennings scored a touchdown on a fumble return.
Brad "Secret Superstar" Jones recovered a fumble.
Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy got into it on the sideline.
And that was just the first half!
The second half was nearly as wild, with the Packers building a 30-14 lead thanks in part to an inspired game by Johnathan Franklin. In easily the best game of his Packers career, Franklin racked up 126 yards on 16 touches, including a 51-yard sprint to set up a Green Bay touchdown with 5:30 remaining in the third quarter. According to Pro Football Reference, Green Bay had a 98.6% chance to win the game at that point.
Of course, everything fell apart from there.
The Bengals scored quickly (thanks in part to two personal fouls by the Packers), then Aaron Rodgers threw an interception to give the Bengals another shot. They missed a field goal, but another interception from Rodgers gave the Bengals still another chance and they capitalized, scoring again to 30 to 27 after a missed PAT. With 10:49 remaining, the Packers needed to avoid mistakes and run as much clock as possible to put pressure on the Bengals.
The Packers calmly moved into Bengals territory until their drive stalled at the edge of field goal range when Cincinnati wisely challenged the spot of the ball, giving the Packers a 4th-and-inches from the 30-yard line. The Packers elected to go for it, and in one bizarre play, all of Johnathan Franklin's efforts fell apart:
If that happened on Madden, you'd throw your controller right through the wall.
A last gasp drive by the Packers seemed like it had a shot, but true to the "cheap Madden CPU win" theme of the game, Aaron Rodgers' fourth down pass from the Cincinnati 20 was knocked down at the line of scrimmage. The Bengals came away with a 34-30 win.
Who Will Win Sunday’s Packers-Bengals game?
Jon says the Packers will win going away.
Last week's game was frustrating to watch, but hope springs eternal, and there's no better way to shake off what ails a team than a home game against a limited opponent.
The Bengals have been atrocious on offense so far this season. They have nearly as many turnovers (six) as points (nine) so far this season and they have yet to break 250 yards passing on the season. Even if the defense isn't perfect and even if the offense hasn't quite found its stride and even if the injury list is growing longer by the day, the Packers should be able to scrape together enough of an effort to put this one away by the start of the fourth quarter.
Gary says the Packers win by a touchdown.
Remember the Packers' comfortable win over the Minnesota Vikings at home on Christmas Eve last year? By my estimation, that's the last time Green Bay has won a game comfortably. Since then, the Packers weaved their way through the postseason and began the 2017 season with two nailbiters.
When Sunday rolls around, it will have been 274 days since the Packers' 38-25 win over the Vikings last season. And I don't think that streak is coming to an end this week, unfortunately.
Cincinnati's struggles on offense, as Jon highlighted above, likely can't continue for yet another week. The Bengals have more talent on offense than their statistics and performance has indicated. As they head into this week's contest with a new offensive coordinator, it's likely the Packers will see a renewed effort from the Cincinnati offense.
That will likely make things interesting for the duration of the game. I think Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense has become more comfortable against a defense like Cincinnati given their divisional matchups against former Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer in Minnesota, so expect a high scoring affair.