The Cincinnati Bengals head to Detroit this weekend for their week seven game against the Lions. Both teams come into the game at 4-2, leading their respective divisions (Lions have a share but a tie-breaker against the Bears gives them first position). It's not the first time that the Bengals have played a division leader this year; first place New England was undefeated before losing to the Bengals in week five.
HOME VS. AWAY: The Detroit Lions will host the Bengals, looking to defend their undefeated (2-0) home record with wins against the Vikings and Bears. Since 2011, the Lions are an even .500 (9-9) at home. Cincinnati won their first road game this year during a 27-24 overtime win in Buffalo, improving their record to 1-2. However, the Bengals have been road warriors. Dating back to 2011, the Bengals are 12-5 on the road during the regular season.
The Quarterback Breakdown:
ALL-TIME SERIES: Bengals lead the series 7-3, currently riding a four-game winning streak.
LAST TIME PLAYED IN CINCINNATI: The last time these two teams met (Dec. 6, 2009), the Bengals won 23-13 thanks to Jonathan Fanene's 45-yard interception return for a touchdown and Carson Palmer's 36-yard touchdown to Cad Johnson.
LAST TIME PLAYED IN DETROIT: The last time the Bengals visited Detroit, Cincinnati won 41-17 behind Rudi Johnson's 117 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Quarterback Carson Palmer added three first-half touchdowns and the defense recorded four turnovers (three interceptions, fumble recovery).
NOTE OF INTEREST: The previous two games that the Bengals played the Lions, Cincinnati went on to capture the AFC North Championship. Cincinnati's win over the Lions in '05 was the game that actually clinched it. The last time the Bengals lost a regular season game in Detroit was Sept. 27, 1970. The last time the Bengals lost a regular season game to the Lions (when the game is played anywhere) was in 1992.
THAT WAS HISTORY, WHAT ABOUT TODAY: The Lions have secured four wins this year against teams with a combined .409 winning percentage (9-13). However, two of those wins were good wins against the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns; teams with a non-losing record. The other two wins (Minnesota and Washington) are each 1-4.
|AT Green Bay
Though we have to point out, due to the delicious nature of embarrassing our in-state rivals, Detroit's win over the Browns included this:
NAMES TO REMEMBER: Center Dominic Raiola and right guard Larry Warfold are having excellent seasons this year. Neither have allowed a quarterback sack and a combined five pressures on the quarterback. Geno Atkins and Wallace Gilberry, who becomes an inside rusher during passing downs, will have their work cutout for them. Reggie Bush is having his usual successes in the NFL, with 108 touches, 637 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. Bush is currently ranked third in the NFL with an average of 127.4 scrimmage yards per game.
Rookie defensive end Ezekiel Ansah leads the team with three quarterback sacks and two forced fumbles and defensive end Willie Young is first on the team with seven hits on the quarterback and second with 18 hurries.
And you have the obvious names of Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.
EARLY MATCH-UP FUN: The battle of defensive tackles. For the first time since entering the league, Ndamukong Suh and Geno Atkins will play in the same regular season game. Both are considered the premiere defensive tackles in the NFL, with Suh ranked No. 40 and Atkins No. 36 in the NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2013. Vince Wilfork was listed as the No. 1 defensive tackle at No. 30. Dating back to 2012, Atkins leads all NFL defensive tackles with 16.5 quarterback sacks.
NO WORRIES: One might think surrender to a nervous breakdown thinking about the attack Suh and Fairley could bring against Cincinnati's offense, especially with Kyle Cook at center. While it's true that Cook scores the worst grade as a pass blocker, Suh and Fairley should generally be assigned to Clint Boling and Kevin Zeitler. According to Pro Football Focus, Boling and Zeitler are ranked as the fourth and seventh best offensive guards in the NFL.
SOME WORRIES: Lions tight end Joseph Fauria has five touchdowns this year and Calvin Johnson is always a threat -- please keep Adam Jones off Johnson. We're not saying this viciously; rather statistically. Quarterbacks throwing to receivers that Jones is covering, have completed 24 of 36 passes (66.7 percent) for 430 yards receiving and an opposing quarterback rating of 105.1. He's allowed at least one 30-yard reception in all but one game (Packers).
The Bengals rarely match-up cornerbacks with specific receivers. Leon Hall is usually on the receiver to the right and Terence Newman maintains the left side of the field (from the defense's perspective). When Cincinnati goes into nickel situation, Hall has been moving to the slot with Jones replacing him on the right. So it's possible that Jones will have his day; we're just not sure what kind of day.
QUESTION: That's even if Johnson plays and if he's effective. Johnson suffered a sprained right knee during Detroit's 40-32 win over the Chicago Bears in week four, preventing him from playing the following week against the Green Bay Packers. Johnson returned to the lineup during Detroit's 31-17 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, but played only 51 percent of the offensive snaps while hauling in three receptions for 25 yards receiving.
More will be known this week, but don't be surprised if Johnson is limited during practice only to play. At the very least, Johnson could be used like he was against Cleveland, playing situationally (third downs, red zone) and as a decoy.