This game may not have as big of implications for the Bengals, but there is still a great sense of pride left to play for. After their performance last week, the Bengals owe it to their fans to at least give us something worth watching.
If nothing else, they should realize they could be playing for their jobs next season.
Here are the five Bengals players you should watch this week against the Vikings.
Cornerback William Jackson
The Bengals should be playing plenty of Jackson down the stretch. They will be without Adam Jones who is on Injured Reserve, which really clears out some snaps for Jackson.
Jackson has looked fairly impressive at times, especially against Antonio Brown in the team’s two matchups with the team. Still he has some instances where it shows this is his first full season of NFL football. He should have his plate full this week with Adam Thielen and Stephon Diggs out wide. Thielen has become Case Kennum’s favorite target, and he has had one of the more impressive seasons so far for an NFC receiver.
If the Bengals are going to pull off the upset then Jackson will have to play the part of shutdown corner.
Wide receiver A.J. Green
Green had a rough game against the Bears, so it is no wonder the Bengals looked so flat on offense the whole day.
It is clear this offense goes as Green goes, especially without Joe Mixon . If the Bengals are going to be competitive then Green will have to have a big day. That is easier said than done against the Vikings defense though. They do a great job at taking away what you do best, and Mike Zimmer knows how this team likes to function from his time with the team.
Xavier Rhodes has also been having a breakout season as he has shutdown plenty of the NFL’s top receivers so far this season. Green will have to make sure his name isn’t added to that list.
Linebacker Carl Lawson
Lawson has been one of the few bright spots for the Bengals this season as he has tallied 7.5 sacks so far this season. He has been getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks at an impressive rate, and he only needs two more sacks to break Carlos Dunlap’s rookie record.
The Bengals offense will have to keep up with the Vikings, so Lawson can get onto the field in obvious passing downs, but if he does just make sure you keep an eye on him. You could end up seeing his record breaking sack.
Linebacker Jordan Evans
To put it simply Evans has to redeem himself. Last week wasn’t great for any of the linebackers for the Bengals. They were without Nick Vigil and Vontaze Burfict, so Vincent Rey and Kevin Minter started the game with Evans.
It got ugly quick as the linebackers just weren’t quick enough to get to the Bears ball carriers, and Chicago frequently threw the ball over the linebackers’ heads after getting them to bite on play action.
Evans will have to account for Jerick McKinnon out of the back field this week. He is often targeted out of the backfield, or a threat to break a huge run if you don’t properly fill your gaps.
Evans is playing to prove the future Bengals’ head coach that he can be relied upon at that position.
Quarterback Andy Dalton
It all comes down to Dalton. If the Bengals are going to get the upset Dalton will have to be on his A game. He will need to play well enough to elevate players like Tyler Boyd and Josh Malone who have been non-factors this season.
The Vikings defense is going to throw everything they have at Dalton to confuse him. He will have to make outstanding presnap reads, and then quickly dissect how the play is developing to get the ball where it needs to be.
Dalton’s job will not be easy, but he will be the difference in the Bengals competing with the Vikings or wondering why they even made the trip.