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5 Questions: New England Patriots @ Cincinnati Bengals

5 Questions with Cincy Jungle
Injuries, Defense Are Problems for Bengals

Cincy Jungle: SB Nation's Cincinnati Bengals blog
Joining us to help preview New England's Monday Night matchup at Cincinnati is Josh Kirkendall of SB Nation's Cincinnati Bengals blog, Cincy Jungle.

tommasse: What does the loss of Rudi Johnson (out, hamstring) mean to Cincinnati and to the Bengals game plan?

Josh: With Kenny Irons out for the season and Chris Perry out nearly the entire first half of the season, the loss of Rudi causes big problems. Already lacking depth at running back, the Bengals will start Kenny Watson as the feature back and DeDe Dorsey as the backup. Jeremi Johnson, 260-pound full back, may see a few handoffs also.

I would project the Bengals offense to become even more aerial. T.J. Houshmandzadeh runs short curls routes that pick up five yards here and there. Expect Carson Palmer to go deep early in the game to spread out New England's defense allowing space for the Bengals offense to do more underneath stuff later compensating for the loss of Rudi Johnson.

tommasse: The Bengals are 29th in yards and points allowed (27th in rushing and passing yards allowed). What will they do to defend New England's new offense?

Josh: The Bengals defense, as much as they prove they stink, do well during night games - except against Indy in '06. The secondary is good enough, provided they eliminate mental mistakes, to cover deep - maybe not a freak like Randy Moss, but the Bengals are hardly alone on that. The one factor on the stinkism of Bengals defense is the lack of talent at linebacker. For the most part, they run a cover-two zone which forces the linebackers to cover the intermediate routes. If New England's offensive game-plan is to wreck the middle of the field, they could score way more than 38 points.

The only way the Bengals defense can succeed is to pressure Brady to compensate for the horrible zone coverage over the middle. If he releases the ball early, the Bengals defense can create turnovers - the one thing they do well. Not suggesting Brady will. But it's the only realistic way for the Bengals defense to contain New England's offense.

Update [2007-10-1 11:20:50 by tommasse]:: The below link at Cincy Jungle is now active.
For more from Josh Kirkendall, click 'Read More' ... To see my answers to Josh's questions, visit Cincy Jungle.

tommasse: Cincinnati is 1-2 and has a bye next week. How do those factors play into the Bengals preparation for this game?

Josh: I guess it would be justified if Patriot fans went into Monday hoping they didn't get beat by the dreaded "trap game". There has been talk all week that this is a must-win game. Chad Johnson said they need to get their swagger back and most players are looking forward to this game. Being 1-2 with the embarrassing 51-45 loss to Cleveland really depressed this team. The defense rebounded well, for the most part, against Seattle. But special teams play has been like a rock falling to the bottom of the ocean all season.

However, I do think the Bengals will be ready to play; especially with the factors you mention.

tommasse: What do you think of the job Marvin Lewis has done?

Josh: There's a lot of frustration with Lewis from the fans and media -- ranging from questionable personnel decisions to in-game adjustments. I appreciate what he's done making us competitive each week. But there's question whether or not he can lead this team to the next plateau.

tommasse: What do the Bengals need to do to win this game? What impact does home field have?

Josh: The Bengals are undefeated (2-0) when hosting Monday Night Football during the Marvin Lewis era - 20-13 overall. Unlike most of the upper-echelon teams, the Bengals at home are simply above average. Nothing else.

The Bengals offense can beat the best defenses. We've beaten Pittsburgh and Baltimore multiple times. Most of us feel confident, that if the defense brings their "A" game (which is always in question) then this offense will handle anything opposing defenses bring. If our defense doesn't come out, then Carson Palmer is put into a situation where he starts pressing making small-window passes that usually end up with interceptions and losses.

I really believe this game will be determined by the Bengals defense. If they come to play, then we're in for one helluva game. If not, well, I'm sure the Monday Night Football crew will talk about everything off-the-field rather than on it. I'm sure with the recent news of the Patriots and the Bengals historically bad rap; they'll have plenty to talk about.

tommasse: Thanks to Cincy Jungle's Josh Kirkendall for helping out this week with 5 Questions.