Tale Of The Tape: Cincinnati Bengals At Detroit Lions
- QuarterbackAndy Dalton has been somewhat of a disappointment this year. Many observers had the Bengals as a legitimate Super Bowl threat this season, but they are not going to get there as long as Dalton does not show some improvement. While he has completed 65.2 percent of his passes, his 8-6 TD-interception ratio is an issue for head coach Marvin Lewis.The Lions are often criticized for their lack of discipline and their inability to take advantage of opportunities, but they dispatched the Cleveland Browns on the road in Week Six and much of that had to do with Matthew Stafford’s efficiency in the second half. Stafford has thrown for 1,772 yards and he has a 12-4 TD-interception ratio. His arrow is pointing up.
- OffenseThe Bengals have the tools to put together a versatile and dangerous attack. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a workmanlike running back, but he is not a gamebreaker. The Bengals need to get the ball to explosive rookie Gio Bernard more often than they do. A.J. Green is a big-play receiver while tight end Tyler Eifert can go up the seam and make the big play.The Lions have the best receiver in the league in Calvin Johnson. While Johnson has been slowed by a knee injury, he could be back in peak form for this game and that means he could dominate. Reggie Bush is an explosive runner and receiver, but his effort tends to fluctuate. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew can get open and Stafford will look for him on third-down plays.
- DefenseThe Bengals are coming off their first road victory of the year, but the defense allowed the Bills to come from behind and force the game into overtime. Still, the Bengals have been solid overall and they can shut down the interior run with Geno Atkins and Domata Peko manning the spots in the middle of the defensive line. Outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict is an active tackler and hard hitter.The Lions have not played consistently on defense, but they play well when the game is on the line. They shut out the Browns in the second half and that allowed them to come out of Cleveland with a road victory. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is a vicious hitter who can take over a game. Underrated linebacker DeAndre Levy leads the team with 49 tackles and he also has four interceptions.
- Special TeamsThe Bengals have been solid with their coverage teams and that has not always been the case for Lewis’ team. Mike Nugent has proven to be a dependable placekicker, making 8-of-10 FG attempts. Kevin Huber has dropped 12 of his 29 punts inside the 20.The Lions have given up big plays in the return game, and that could hurt in this game, unless Micheal Spurlock can give them a big return of their own. David Akers is rebounding quite nicely after his disastrous season in San Francisco. He has made 8-of-10 FG attempts.
These two teams are at a very similar level and the winner has every reason to feel confident about itself with the second half of the season looming. The Lions have the better quarterback and they are playing at home, and that should be enough to get them the victory. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor