WEEK 15: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Minnesota Vikings
Opponent Record: 5-6 (play Monday night against Pittsburgh Steelers), third in AFC North
What to look out for:
The Cincinnati Bengals feature wide receiver A.J. Green on the offensive side of the ball, leading the league’s worst offense with 809 yards receiving on 53 catches. Heading into Week 13, he ranked seventh in the NFL in receiving and is arguably the lone threat and weapon for quarterback Andy Dalton. As for Dalton, he’s actually had a fine season with 2,372 yards, along with 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 11 games. That being said, the offense has struggled to get a run game going with backs Joe Mixon, Jeremy Hill, and Giovani Bernard, largely due to a brutal offensive line.
On the other side of the ball, the Bengals have a solid defense. In particular, they are great at stopping the pass, only allowing 204 yards per game, good enough for fifth best in the league. A large part of that has to do with a big pass rush led by defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who has 7.0 sacks on the season.
Keys to victory:
The Rhodes have to be closed against A.J. Green and that hasn’t been much of a problem for the shutdown corner. Additionally, the Vikings have to take advantage of a weak offensive line that has struggled to replace Andrew Whitworth at left tackle. If Minnesota puts on the pressure and makes Green a non-factor, they will be well on their way to another win.
As for the offense, they’ll need a heavy dose of Latavius Murray to slow down the Bengals pass rush and set up the play-action pass game. In reality, a couple touchdowns should seal this game up considering the defense performs as usual.
Score Prediction: 24-7 Vikings
Ultimately, the Vikings are just a far better team in all phases of the game. At home, the Vikings defense should be able to get after Dalton plenty and score enough points to win this game rather easily.