Usually, week 10 of the NFL season is where the playoff picture starts to get a little more vivid. A few teams are already starting their draft preparation while others are hoping for catching a win streak with a little stroke of luck.
Two of those teams that are looking to get on a roll this late in the season meet on Monday night as head coach Marvin Lewis and his Cincinnati Bengals (3-4-1) travel to the Big Apple to tango with the ever entertaining New York Giants (5-3), who are quietly sitting in the playoff picture currently. Two teams who entered the 2016 season with a ton of hype and rightfully so. However, the Giants have seemed to hit a stride while the Bengals are still trying to put the puzzle pieces together. Here is the preview for this Monday night encounter.
What To Know About Cincinnati:
Over the years, Lewis has built his Bengals teams thoroughly from the draft to the point to where just based on pure talent alone, the Bengals possessed one of the better rosters in the league. Coming into the season, the Bengals endured a tough start to their schedule with road games against the Jets, Steelers, Cowboys, and Patriots, plus a home game against the Broncos and a trip to London to take on the Redskins. A 27-27 tie to Washington in week eight has the Bengals at 3-4-1 with hopes of getting back on track. In order to do that, their sixth ranked offense may have to turn it up a notch. Quarterback Andy Dalton has tossed for 2,349 yards and nine touchdowns with three interceptions and his favorite target, WR AJ Green, is fifth in the league in catches with 59. The run game has been dependable in recent weeks behind starter Jeremy Hill and #2 back Gio Bernard and has totaled at least 120 yards in each of the past three games. The team recently welcomed back talented tight end Tyler Eifert, who contributed nine catches and a touchdown in their week eight, his only game of the season. When healthy, Eifert is a fringe top five tight end but the key words are “when healthy”. As Eifert has struggled to avoid the injury bug.
Defensively, is where the most of the issues are for the Bengals. The unit is 24th in the league in total defense and in the past four games, they have allowed at least 402 total yards including 546 to Washington two weeks ago. Leading the team in tackles is 13-year veteran Karlos Dansby with 34 and defensive end Carlos Dunlap leads the team in sacks with five. The defense does not have a ton to build off of but they are a stingy defense when it comes to giving up points as they are 11th in the league allowing 20.9 points per game. Starting cornerback tandem of Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick have been lackluster but the two are definitely capable of being one of the better tandems in the league.
What To Know About New York:
One of the bigger players in free agency this offseason, the Giants have slowly placed a rough and controversial 2-3 start behind them and are now sitting at 5-3, within the current playoff picture. Quarterback Eli Manning has occasionally flirted with the turnover bug with eight interceptions on the season. However, when Manning can be on the same page with his receivers, he can be one of the better QBs in the league. He has a trio receivers led by one of the best in the league in Odell Beckham Jr. (44 catches, 676 yards, 5 TDs) along with Victor Cruz (25/377/1) and Sterling Shepard (34/384/3) that has placed the Giants ninth in the league in passing yards per game at 271.6. The run game, however, has been non-existent with veteran Rashad Jennings averaging just 33.6 rushing yards per game and 168 total rushing yards with one touchdown on the season.
While the defense is still having trouble bringing down the quarterback, they are one of the best defenses in the league in defending the run and allow only 93.9 yards per game. Part of that is due to the passing yards that have been given up by the secondary as the Giants are 27th in the league against the pass. Strong safety Landon Collins has been the best defensive player for the Giants this season and it’s not even close. Collins leads the team in tackles (55), INTs (3), as well as sacks (3) and one of the best pick-6’s you would see this season. Free agent pickup Janoris Jenkins has been quite impressive in his own right and has two INTs along with 28 tackles and 10 pass breakups. Getting a little more production out of starting defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon would carry the defense a long way. The duo has a grand total of 3.5 sacks combined on the season.
Two teams with similar attributes but different records of course. The Giants are walking into this contest on a win streak with a pocket full of confidence as Manning and his targets seem to be getting on the same page. While the Bengals still have that bitter taste in their mouth of a tie game.
Both of these teams rely heavily on their passing game while both possess inconsistency in the secondary which means this has the makings of a shootout. Neither team has generated consistency in the pass rush as well while the Bengals have the upper hand in their offensive run game.
If there is an X-factor in this game, it has to be the defensive line from both teams. With two offenses that like to get the ball in the air to big play receivers, whichever defensive line that can disrupt rhythm and pressure the opposing quarterback can change the dynamic of the game.
Manning has to stay away from turnovers. Period. His ability to make plays with his trio of receivers can be devastating for defenses and in this matchup, the combination of Manning and his receivers can pick the Bengals secondary apart.
The Giants defense has still allowed a ton of yards the past few games and the combo of Pierre-Paul and Vernon have not accumulated sacks but they have generated pressure constantly in recent games and are more trustworthy than a Bengals defense that has key injuries to starting linebacker Rey Maualuga and defensive end Michael Johnson. A shootout will occur but the playmaking ability of Collins, Jenkins, and corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will make an appearance to get the Giants over the hump.
Score – New York 35 Cincinnati 27