In one of the most exciting games on the schedule this week, the Cincinnati Bengals visit the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday Night Football. The Bengals are coming off the first loss of their season on Monday Night Football and face a tough road game against the Cardinals, who look like one of the best teams in the league right now. The point spread is favoring the Cardinals at -5, with Cincinnati finding themselves the +5.0 underdogs heading into the weekend.
Andy Dalton had his worst game of the season on Monday night, but he faces an even better defense in the Cardinals. One of the most obvious reasons that Cincinnati struggled was a failure to get the ground game going as Gio Bernard ran for just 36 yards on eight carries. They’ll need to find balance on offense to help take pressure off of Dalton. A.J. Green and Marvin Jones will need to find separation against Arizona’s stellar secondary or it could be another week of not finding the end zone.
While the offense struggled, the Bengals defense played well enough to keep the game within reach. The problem is that the Cardinals are an exponentially better offensive team than the Texans. The Bengals have racked up 26 sacks on the season, sixth best in the league. They’ll need to notch a few more and throw a wrench into the Cardinals’ well-oiled passing game. If Carson Palmer starts to get into a rhythm, it may be hard to stop the bleeding.
The Cardinals secondary has played extremely well in the last few weeks, with Tyrann Mathieu turning into the elite player many thought he would be coming out of LSU after some off-field issues. Pair Mathieu’s emergence with a deep secondary and you’ve got a defense built to take on a team like the Bengals who use offensive weapons like Green, Jones and Tyler Eiffert to cause match up issues. Taking away the deep play will make it hard for Cincinnati to move the ball, giving it right back to their offense.
The trio of Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and Michael Floyd has combined for 1830 yards passing and 15 touchdown passes this season. Having three receivers put up big numbers like these creates a nightmare for the Bengals, who also have to worry about Chris Johnson having another 100 yard rushing game. Everything is working for Arizona’s offense, but they’ll need to play even better to overcome a motivated Bengals defense who’ll be looking to avoid a second straight loss.
Sunday Night Football Prediction
The Bengals have enjoyed a nice start to their season, going 8-1 with their quarterback playing his best football. Against the Cardinals, they’ll face a team that is emerging as one of the Super Bowl contenders on their home turf. Both defenses will perform well, but one offense ranks just a bit higher in depth and ability to strike quickly.