When the 2013 season opened up, I read an optimistic piece forecasting that the Cincinnati Bengals and Seattle Seahawks would play each other in the Super Bowl. I had to chuckle at this bold prediction. To be honest, I did not even know that the Bengals were a serious contender for the playoffs this year. They always seemed to be the teams that could never quite make it into the post season, until now. The match up this week between the Packers and the Bengals will no doubt be exciting because both teams are in the hunt for their second win of the season.
Normally I am a big proponent of establishing run game early if possible, but this week I will to give up on the running game, but for this week only. Why? John Kuhn is doubtful for the game and Eddie Lacy will not play either, leaving James Starks to pick up the slack of having two key players down. Packers need to jump out early and establish a comfortable lead over the Bengals and the only way they accomplish that is by throwing, throwing, throwing.
The Packers defense must create turnovers this week. They only have one interception this year by Mike Neal. The Packers defense thrives on taking the ball away and this has just not been accomplished yet this season.
Thirdly, Packers need to start completing more third down conversions. They are only eight for twenty and it is coming up on the third game of the season. Third down conversions sustain drives and take time off the clock, something the Packers haven’t been that successful in doing yet.
Packers also need to shut their opponents down faster. There were some painful missed opportunities in the game against San Francisco and no matter how good RG 3 may be, the Redskins never should have been allowed to come back and score 20 points. Coach Mike McCarthy emphasized that this week. He said, "When you have the lead, you have to finish the race. No different than when you're coming from behind. We had a chance to take the lead with eight minutes left in the 49er game and we didn't finish it. So that's something that we're focused on."
Packers have the ability to execute in all four of these areas. Whether or not they will is yet to be determined. The Bengals should not be taken for granted this year and considered a serious Super Bowl contender. But if the Packers come out early and establish a lead, create turnovers, complete their third down conversions and shut the Bengals down in the fourth quarter, they will add another “W” to their record.
By Catherine Solin