Another week of football, and another week of our Interview with the Enemy series. This week, our friend, Patrick Judis of Cincy Jungle, answers 5 quick questions about our week 10 matchup, a battle outside in Cincinnati to face Andy Dalton and the Bengals.
AJ Green is an elite WR in the NFL. How will the Bengals offense replace his production against the Saints?
Green is by far Andy Dalton’s favorite target, and you can tell when all else fails he never minds tossing it up to Green. The Bengals don’t really have a receiver who can replicate what Green does when the ball is in the air, but Tyler Boyd has been having a career season. He actually has stats that mirror Greens’. The Bengals are also luckily getting John Ross back from his groin injury this week. With Green out, it is the perfect chance to give him a bigger role outside of being a decoy to open up space underneath for everyone else.
Simply though, it has to be a group effort, and the Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor will have to get creative by getting Boyd, Ross and even guys like Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard (if he is able to go) more involved by scheming plays to get them in open space.
The Saints defensive line is making noticeable improvements as the season goes on, especially up the middle. How is the Bengals offensive line faring this season?
The Bengals offensive line saw huge improvements this offseason, but they are only average at best. That really says a lot about how bad they were in 2017. Still the weakest link along the offensive line has to be Alex Redmond at right guard. He has flashes of being a good run blocker, but he lacks the ability to anchor in pass protection. He often is escorted right into Dalton’s lap by whatever defensive tackle is in front of him.
The Bengals may do some shifting around this week as their rookie first round center Billy Price seems to be finally getting healthy after getting injured in Week 2. Offensive lineman Trey Hopkins had actually played very well in his place, and he happened to start at right guard last season. One would think the natural move would be to move Hopkins over to right guard, but we have seen no indication that Cincinnati plans to even test anyone else out instead of Redmond.
If you were the Saints, how would you game plan to attack the Cincinnati defense?
The middle of the field. The Bengals don’t have linebackers who can really cover, and the scheme doesn’t do them any favors. Most of the time they all retreat back into zone coverage and wait for someone to catch a pass underneath. Alvin Kamara should torch them as bad as Kareem Hunt did a few weeks ago.
Who is one Bengals player that Saints fans might not be familiar with that you expect to make an impact in this game?
Boyd has had a tremendous season, but I still think he gets left in Green’s shadow too often. He has 620 receiving yards and five touchdowns on the season, and he leads the team with 49 catches. His relevancy in fantasy football lately has given him a bigger name, but especially without Green, Cincinnati will be relying on him to have a great game.
What’s your prediction for the game? Final score?
Honestly, this game has all the makings of a repeat of the Kansas City beat down the Bengals took a few weeks ago. Cincinnati is notoriously bad off bye weeks, and the absence of Green doesn’t do them any favors. The Bengals defense is one of the worst in the NFL, and it is going up against one of the best offenses. It really is that simple.
Bengals 13 Saints 38
A big thanks to Patrick for taking the time to answer our questions. Make sure you check out his work and the rest of the good folks at Cincy Jungle for tons of Bengals content. You can follow Patrick on Twitter @PatrickJudis, Cincy Jungle @CincyJungle, and of course you can always follow me @dunnellz.