Green Bay Packers vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 21, 2017 at 5:17 PM
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CINCINNATI BENGALS (0-2) AT GREEN BAY PACKERS (1-1)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Lambeau Field. TV: CBS, Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 13th regular-season meeting. Bengals lead series, 7-5. The Bengals have won three straight games and Green Bay hasn't defeated Cincinnati since 1998. The Bengals are also the only team Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy have never defeated.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bengals failed to score a touchdown in the first two games and fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese. Bill Lazor has taken over, but don't expect the offense to look much different with less than one week of preparation.

The Bengals' defense needs to pester Aaron Rodgers and get Ty Montgomery on the ground. Poor tackling has been an issue for the Bengals, who have struggled to get off the field on third down.

The Packers should lean heavily on Montgomery and the ground game. The Bengals rank 31st in rushing yards allowed and 22nd in yards per carry (4.2).

If Green Bay is without some of its weapons in the passing game (Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are nursing injuries), pounding the Bengals on the ground might be its best path to victory.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--Packers RB Ty Montgomery vs. Bengals defense. Montgomery is a converted wide receiver who creates matchup problems with his size and elusiveness. Through two weeks, Montgomery leads the NFL with 132 yards after the catch.

--Bengals WR A.J. Green vs. Packers DBs. Green Bay believed it had improved a cornerback group that ranked 31st in the NFL in passing yards allowed last season. But Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan shredded Green Bay last week. Green, one of the NFL's top receivers, will try to do the same.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Bengals DE Jordan Willis. He has been nothing but impressive since being drafted in the third round out of Kansas State. Willis, who had an NFL-leading four sacks in the preseason, earned his first start last week for the injured Michael Johnson and recorded five tackles. Johnson could return this week, but Willis' contributions should begin to increase each game.

FAST FACTS: Bengals QB Andy Dalton has 22,608 career passing yards and 87 yards to pass Carson Palmer (22,694) for third in franchise history. ... Bengals WR A.J. Green caught a TD in the last meeting. In four games vs. the NFC North, He has 460 receiving yards (115 per game) and six TD catches. Since entering the NFL in 2011, his 7,276 yards are fourth active players. ... Packers QB Aaron Rodgers passed for 343 yards and two TDs last week. He reached 300 career TD passes in the fewest attempts (4,742) in NFL history as he became the 11th with 300. ... Packers RB Ty Montgomery had 110 scrimmage yards (75 receiving) and two TDs in Week 2, his second multi-TD game. ... Packers WR Jordy Nelson caught eight passes for 93 yards in the last meeting. He has seven receiving TDs in his past five home games.

PREDICTION: The Packers' receivers might be a little banged up, but Rodgers still has a few tight ends and Montgomery. And the Bengals can't hold onto the ball (minus-5 in turnover margin).

OUR PICK: Packers, 27-13.

--Chris Cluff

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