A.J. Green Needs To Be A Bigger Factor On Saturday

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 01: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals is tackled by Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens during the NFL game at Paul Brown Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Exciting is not a big enough word to describe what watching A.J. Green has been like in his rookie season as the Bengals No. 1 receiver. Green has been incredible as he's broken the franchise's rookie receiving record and become the first 1,000-yard rookie receiver since 2006. He is one of the biggest factors that Andy Dalton has found success in the NFL and he's one of the biggest reasons the Bengals are in the playoffs.

Having said that, since Green suffered a shoulder injury in Week 15, he has been a non factor. In Week 16 he caught two passes for 25 yards and in Week 17 he caught two passes for 26 yards. If the Bengals want to win in the playoffs for the first time since 1990, Green is going to have to be a bigger factor in the offense.

Before I go any farther, understand that I'm not saying that Green was bad in the last two weeks or that he is inconsistent. All I'm saying is that he needs to have more than two catches for 25 yards if the Bengals are going to win. It's possible that his shoulder injury held him back or that defenses are double and maybe even triple teaming him or it was a combination of them both.

Hopefully Green is healthier now than he was in Week 16 and 17, if that is what held him back. If he is at 100 percent even a corner as good as Johnathan Joseph, who has had an outstanding year, will have trouble holding him back. And, if he's 100 percent healthy, they will have to focus a lot of attention on stopping him, which opens up the field for guys like Jermaine Gresham, Jerome Simpson and Andrew Hawkins.

Green's ability to make plays goes hand in hand with the Bengals ability to win games. This game is very winnable for the Bengals and if they want a shot at the Patriots and a possible shot at the AFC Championship game, Green needs to do what Green has done throughout most of the season: be unstoppable.

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