Tonight the Cincinnati Bengals host the Carolina Panthers as part of the third week of the NFL's preseason schedule. The Panthers will be looking for their second preseason win and the Bengals will be trying to win their first. The game starts at 7 p.m. and will be aired locally on WKRC (12) on tape delay at 11:55 p.m. (because the game won't sell out and will be blacked out). If you live outside of Cincinnati, here is a TV distribution map for tonight's game.
Today, before the game, we'll be writing up a series of game previews. The following is a preview of.....
Bengals Front-Seven Vs. Panthers Running Game
The Panthers boast a couple of running backs that could easily be the starting running backs of most any team in the NFL -- DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Williams is one of the best running backs in the NFL when it comes to vision, breakaway speed and quickness and Stewart is a bruising power-back. Both backs were injured last season but in 2009 they both had over 1,000 yards rushing throughout the regular season. When Williams and Stewart did miss time last season, Mike Goodson, the team's third-string running back proved he can be a handfull for defenses as well. Last season, the Panthers' offensive line allowed their running backs 4.3 yards per carry and they were best at rushing to the right side of the line.
The Bengals front seven will have their hands full with the Panthers running game. It would be a nice game to have Pat Sims plugging holes on the line, but at least we'll get to see how second-year player Geno Atkins can handle stopping the run. He'll work with Domata Peko, Michael Johnson and Robert Geathers on the line. At linebacker, Rey Maualuga being playing middle linebacker, his natural position, will help the front-four hold back Williams and Stewart. The safeties may need to step up in run support as well. It would be nice to see Taylor Mays play tonight and showcase what he can do against the run as part of the Bengals secondary but it's unclear s to whether or not he'll make it on the field or not.
The Panthers, like the Bengals, will be a run-first team because they're likely to start a rookie quarterback. In the third preseason game, known as the dress rehearsal game, we'll get the biggest glimpse of what teams will do once the season rolls around. Therefor, I expect to see a lot of Williams and Stewart tonight. Hopefully the Bengals front-seven is up to the task.