The Bengals face turmoil and coaching turnover as they head into one of the most difficult games on their 2017 schedule. Aaron Rodgers, who very well may be the most talented quarterback in the game, will look to defend his home turf. Still, there are other interesting individual matchups besides some of the obvious ones in this game.
Here are some of the more intriguing player matchups of Week 3 between the Bengals and the Packers.
Packers defensive backs Damarious Randall and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix versus A.J. Green:
Randall is a starting corner for Packers, while Clinton-Dix is their starting free safety, but they have both combined for zero interceptions and just two passes defended through the first two games this year. Though the Packers’ defense held the Seahawks to just nine points and 225 total net yards in Week 1, they got torched by the Falcons for 252 passing yards from Matt Ryan and 34 total points.
Immediately following the Bengals’ embarrassing Thursday night loss to the Texans, the usually-low-key Green vented to the media about the game plan on offense. Julio Jones exploded for 108 yards, giving hope for a big day from Cincinnati’s own star receiver. Atlanta mixed up the looks with Jones, so Bill Lazor will need to do the same for potential success with Green.
Packers safety Morgan Burnett versus Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah:
Tyler Eifert might be missing this game with knee and back issues, but either way, it appears that Uzomah might be suiting up for the first time this year. The third-year tight end showed nice growth last season in the wake of Eifert’s stint on the PUP List, but he’ll need to be an immediate factor in Green Bay if Eifert is to sit.
Burnett has been a solid player for the Packers over the years, but he too has just two passes defended this season. Uzomah is a solid pass-catcher and will likely be shadowed at times by Burnett when he’s in the game. Will Burnett exploit Uzomah’s potential rust, or will the tight end’s height and athleticism win the day?
Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga versus Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap:
Bulaga has missed the first two games after suffering a significant preseason ankle injury, so Kyle Murphy has had to step in for him in the interim. While there hasn’t been official word yet on Bulaga’s status for this Sunday, he was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice and then limited on Thursday.
Dunlap doesn’t have a sack this season, but his size and length should provide problems for whoever is lining up at right tackle for Green Bay. Remember that wacky win against Green Bay in 2013? The length of Michael Johnson and Dunlap helped to frustrate and bat critical passes down by Rodgers.
Packers linebacker Blake Martinez versus Bengals running back Giovani Bernard:
We’re not quite sure what Lazor has in mind for the running back group, but Bernard should still be used as a weapon in space—particularly in the passing game. The Packers run a 3-4 defense and it may be hard for backs to find space.
Though Bernard isn’t truly known as a “burner”, he has ample speed, shiftiness and the ability to catch, which could provide to be a matchup nightmare for Martinez. While he is known as a sound tackler and a true technician, he isn’t a superior athlete, which could play into Bernard’s corner.
Packers edge rusher Clay Matthews versus Bengals right tackle Jake Fisher:
Matthews took Falcons right tackle Ryan Schraeder to task last Sunday night, racking up 1.5 sacks. It looks like he might be facing another favorable matchup against Fisher, as the Bengals’ offensive line has struggled this season.
Lazor will have the tough task of coming up with a combination of quick-hitting passes that aren’t predictable. If Cincinnati looks for the deep ball and Fisher can’t hold his own against the future Hall of Fame pass-rusher, it could make for a long afternoon.