After five weeks of play, the Cincinnati Bengals are 2-3 as they head into New Orleans to face the 2-3 Saints. All three of the Bengals losses have come in the final moments from walk-off kicks to win the game, which adds frustration for coaches, players, and fans. The Raven’s loss could be chalked up to questionable play-calling, poor decision-making, and lack of execution by players. The good news is that they can change their course in the next four games before they reach their bye week. Winning those games could certainly boost confidence heading into the second part of the season. Check out the top football odds.
The Saints, too, have not had the start they would have liked. They did win their last game in a shoot-out with the Seahawks 39-32, where they were led by long-time quarterback and ex-Bengal Andy Dalton, now with the Saints. Then there is the story of LSU greats Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and La’el Collins heading back to the Big Easy. It will be interesting to see how many Saints fans are torn between their love for their team and their love for Burrow. Could this affect Saint’s home-field advantage?
All stats courtesy of ESPN
The last time Burrow played in the Superdome was in the 2020 National championship game against Clemson. He threw 463 yards and six touchdowns to defeat the tigers 45-25. Can he have a repeat performance as a Bengal? Burrow is an elite quarterback that can make you pay in the passing game. He should be able to take advantage of a Saints pass defense plagued by injuries.
The Bengals are 2-0 when they start with a lead so getting out ahead of the Saints is a must. It will all start in the trenches and the ability of the Bengal’s offensive line to create solid protection for Burrow to operate. The line has played much better but left tackle Jonah Williams hurt his knee in last week’s game, and his status is up in the air. Hakeem Adeniji would be the first man off the bench to replace him, so this is something to keep an eye on.
They will face a tough New Orleans defense led by seven-time Pro-Bowler Cameron Jordan. He could have the most direct impact on the game if left unblocked. Jordan will have help from Dave Onyemata and Marcus Davenport; both are relentless when pursuing quarterbacks. The Bengal’s offensive line has only given up six sacks in the last three games, so this should be another test.
The Bengal’s running game finally took off last week, with Joe Mixon having 14 carries for 78 yards and averaging 5.6 yards per carry. They must establish another strong running game early with a heavy dose of Mixon. The Stripe’s offensive has struggled on short downs, and running back Samaje Perine could be the solution. Although Perine was not given the opportunity to score last week, this could be another option as they head to the bayou.
Assuming New Orlean’s defense follows the same game plan as the rest of the previous Bengals’ opponents, they will see a lot of cover two high looks. This defense has undoubtedly been the Achilles’ heel for Burrow and the coaching staff. The key will be to get the running game going and draw the linebackers in, exposing the middle of the field. Slot receiver Tyler Boyd does his best work attacking the middle of the field. If the Bengals can find a way to get Boyd more involved in the game plan, this could spell trouble for the Saints. With sure hands, look for Boyd on crucial third downs and critical catches.
Burrow is becoming more and more comfortable each week with his tight end Hayden Hurst. With his physical play, Hurst is the perfect player to come up with some catches that could cause the Saints to change their coverage and game plan.
Make no bones about it; the Saints will absolutely want to stop any big plays from Burrow to Chase. After witnessing this connection in college and their success the last time they played in the Superdome, the Saints will try to shut down the Bengals passing attack by double-teaming Chase. The Saint’s top cornerback Marshon Lattimore has already been ruled out for this game and will likely start some combination of Paulson Adebo, Bradley Roby, and Justin Evans in the backfield.
At any time Burrow sees one-on-one coverage with Chase, you can rest assured that he will take a shot at Chase. Especially with a weakened secondary. Let’s not forget Burrow’s other weapon in receiver Tee Higgins. His status has been questionable all week, and it literally could be a game-time decision. If he does play, it will be hard for the Saints to keep this duo from scoring. Burrow will have to keep an eye on safety Tyrann Mathieu who could be a real game-wrecker for the Bengals. Both know each other by their LSU connection, and Burrow knows he could make a game-changing play anytime.
Saints head coach Dennis Allen announced that Dalton would be their starting quarterback. Talk about repeat; this will be the third year in a row that Dalton has faced the Bengals with three different teams. Since we are talking about former players, Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson will be making his debut against his former team, and I am sure he will be running on tons of emotion. Hendrickson is very familiar with the Saint’s offense and capable of wreaking havoc on Dalton and this Saint’s offense.
The Bengals have been vulnerable in the run game since D.J. Reader went out a few weeks ago. Saint’s running back Alvin Kamara will test this defense. He is someone who can easily have a big game if left unattended. Against the Seahawks this past week, he recorded 103 yards on 23 carries and 91 more yards on six receptions. The Saints are currently in the top 10 in total rushing yards on the season. Stopping the run has to be a primary focus for this Bengal’s defense.
Preparing to defend against Saint’s versatile Taysom Hill can also be a nightmare considering he can hurt you in many ways. Like Kamara, Hill can affect you with his rushing attack and score through the air. He scored four of the five touchdowns last week against Seattle.
The Bengal’s best linebacker, Logan Wilson, will stand in Hill and Kamara’s way. The third-year linebacker has posted 33 combined tackles, two passes defended, and one interception in five games, so look for this talented linebacker to impact this Saints offense. Check out the best football betting strategies.
Every year in the NFL, teams experience injuries to one position group. For New Orleans, it is their receiving corps. They will be without their top receivers, Mike Thomas and Jarvis Landry. They could also be without star receiver Chris Olave who went out of last week’s game under a concussion protocol. He could be another game-time decision.
The Bengals secondary is one of the most formidable in the league. Former Saints cornerback Eli Apple and safety Vonn Bell are part of this secondary, which could force the hand of the Saints to run the ball more, making them one-dimensional.
The Bengals can take advantage of an injury-plagued Saints team. If Burrow can take an early lead and keep it, and the defense continues to play consistently, they should walk out with a win, which will be the very thing this team needs to help turn the corner.
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