The Bengals will try to keep their home winning streak alive on Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings travel to Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals are undefeated at home this season, and their remaining two games of the regular season will be played at home. After losing to Pittsburgh last Sunday night, the Bengals put themselves in a position where they still need a little help getting to the playoffs if they do not win out.
For the Vikings, running back Adrian Peterson sat out at practice yesterday, but it seems as if that was just precautionary. They expect him to play on Sunday and if he does, the Bengals need to be ready to defend the run. Despite a lackluster season, the bright spot for the Vikings has been their rushing attack, which is ranked 10th in the league.
The problem that Peterson poses for the Bengals is that he will have a big day if the Bengals continue with their tackling struggles. In the past two games, the Bengals have missed 30 tackles. That is something Mike Zimmer will need to emphasize this with his players, because if they can not improve their technique then Peterson will be able to run all over them.
Despite injuries in the secondary, the Bengals have been able to hold opposing pass offenses under control. The Vikings had a strong offensive performance last week against the Eagles, putting up 48 points. If the Bengals want to win, their defense will need to give Andy Dalton and the offense plenty of time on the field to work their magic.
The Vikings have the 31st ranked defensive unit in the NFL, and Andy Dalton needs to take advantage of that on Sunday to get the win. Last week in the first half against the Steelers, Dalton played below average and he came out in the second half and picked it back up to put the Bengals back into the game, despite the comeback falling short. Two weeks ago against the Colts, Dalton had the game we were used to seeing out of him in the beginning of the season. He looked more like that in the second half of last week’s game, and against a defense that has struggled, he should be able to have a great game.
One of the keys to the Bengals offense clicking is throwing the ball more to the tight ends. When the Bengals passing attack begins to include Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eiftert, it makes it harder for the defenses to defend them. The Bengals have all the weapons they need to have an explosive offense, and when Jay Gruden calls the right plays and utilizes his players, explosive is exactly what they are. They have a two headed rushing attack in Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Green Ellis, and AJ Geen finally seems to have found a compliment, Marvin Jones, to take the second receiving spot behind him. The Bengals need to find a good balance of rushing and passing and utilizing the players to their best abilities to win out in the regular season and get on a roll going into the playoffs.
For the Vikings, they are just looking to play spoiler to the Bengals playoff and division title hopes. If the Bengals win this game, and Baltimore loses to New England, the Bengals will clinch the division and a playoff spot.