The last time the Bengals played the Giants in New York in the regular season (2008), George W. Bush still sat in the oval office and Carson Palmer was in the process of quarterbacking the Bengals to an 0-5 start before Ryan Fitzpatrick took the reigns for the season due to Palmer's elbow soreness.
When the two teams meet again on November 14, 2016, Barack Obama will be in the process of leaving the oval office and the Bengals will hopefully have experienced a much better start behind Andy Dalton. There are plenty of interesting points that we could focus on for this particular matchup, but one of the most interesting is 34-year-old Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth going up against 25-year-old All-Pro defensive end Olivier Vernon.
This matchup will not only pit the old school Whitworth against the new school Vernon, but will also feature two highly accomplished and talented players in a tantalizing matchup, regardless of the age difference. Throughout their careers, both players have made names for themselves as reliable and productive starters. Vernon proved how reliable the Giants think he is when he signed a 5-year, $85 million contract this offseason.
For Whitworth, the NFL has been part of his life for a decade. He entered the NFL at 24, which is relatively old for rookies. Today, he's a veteran and one of the best left tackles in the NFL, earning his second Pro Bowl appearance for his outstanding efforts in 2015.
Despite the fact that he was going on 34 in 2015, the Bengals showed their faith in Whitworth by extending him through the 2016 season. They did draft two offensive tackles early in the 2015 Draft, but even with first rounder Cedric Ogbuehi looking to take over at right tackle, Whitworth will have a place among the team's starting lineup for at least another year.
Vernon has a much different story. Although it probably hurt his draft stock, he declared for the draft at the age of 20, entering the NFL at a very young age. However, it didn't seem to put him too far behind as he put together a decent rookie season and three impressive seasons after that. His best was in 2013 when he started 14 games, recording 46 tackles and 11.5 sacks.
He never quite hit those heights again in the next two seasons, but his performances were consistent and impressive enough for the Giants to bring him in with a huge contract this offseason. He's expected to reinvigorate the Giants' pass rush and should pose an interesting challenge for Whitworth when the Bengals come to New York in November.
Who has the advantage?
In the NFL, age is one of the biggest enemies of players. However, offensive line tends to be one of those positions where players don't really lose too much skill as they reach their mid to late 30s. Defensive linemen can play for a lengthy amount of time as well, although it is true that being younger and more agile at the position is definitely an advantage.
That said, this matchup seems to be Whitworth's to lose. Vernon is a very talented right defensive end and should have enough time to adjust to the Giants' defensive schemes by Week 10. However, the overall experience that Whitworth has should be enough to set him over the edge when taking his overall strength and technique into account as well.
Ultimately, the advantage in this matchup simply comes down to who has more tools to succeed. Whitworth has yet to show any reason to think he can't keep the very talented Vernon in check. But, Week 10 is a very long time away and a lot could change between now and then. Either way, this matchup could be both one of the most interesting of the season and one of the most important of this particular game.