Midweek Musings on Bengals Week

Packers at Bengals. First thing that pops into my head: Mmmm, Skyline Chili...Graeter's ice cream. OK, now you know where my priorities lie. If Skyline would ever expand beyond a couple hundred miles from Cincy and open a franchise in the Twin Cities, I would weigh 500 pounds.

When the schedule came out, this looked like one of the toughest three or four games on it (along with at SF, Chicago and NY). It still looks that way, though the Bengals don't look like a team that has found its stride, despite its ten-point Monday night win over the Steelers. More on them in a moment.

The Packers historically average 30 points in the game leading into the bye, though that might be hard to come by against this defense. The looming bye will likely play into some roster decisions. We know Casey Hayward is out at least through the bye and you have to expect Morgan Burnett to be held out, with hopes he'll be ready for week five against the Lions. And while Mike McCarthy expressed some positive words regarding Eddie Lacy, there's no chance he plays this week even if he's cleared by the medical staff.

The Packers are slight favorites (-2) because of their dominant performance on Sunday, compared to the Bengals' three-quarter home struggle against the punchless, banged up Steelers. In their opener, the Bengals had the Bears on the ropes at home, but couldn't finish. I put them on 12 wins before the season, but after two weeks they look more like a 10 or 11 win team that will get fat on what is a much weaker division than usual this year.

Andy Dalton has been a solid, if unspectacular starter in his two plus seasons. Remember, he was taken about 25 picks after the Vikings selected Christian Ponder. Their first pick that season was AJ Green, the next superstar wide receiver, who can beat you with his speed and his size--they throw him a ton of short passes and he breaks tackles like Brandon Meriweather breaks helmets. They gave Dalton two more weapons in tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Giovanni Bernard. It should make the offense a lot more explosive, but it hasn't looked that way just yet.

Speaking of Bernard, you know Eddie Lacy was dying to play in this game, to take on the team that took the first running back off the board and it wasn't him. Then again, Lacy would probably be angrier if he lost Cartoon Network from his satellite package.

Thinking the Pack will try a lot of no huddle to try to tire out Geno Atkins and company and keep the crowd out of it. Their fans are rabid and that place can get loud. I do expect a ton of Packers fans on hand as always though.

It's Wednesday afternoon. Right now, I feel like the Pack takes care of business in a tough environment. McCarthy's September record is impeccable and he tends to head into the bye with some steam. Plus you get the Bengals on a short week and sandwiched between division games for them. Feels like 24-20 right now. We'll see how I feel on Friday.

Reminder: I'll be at the Park Tavern in St. Louis Park this Sunday to watch the game, which won't be locally televised. Head past the bowling alley to the 11th Frame. I like to call it "Lambeau West." Food and drink specials and prizes--as always.

Monday is our annual Border Battle golf tournament. Get your Packers foursome together as we take on Vikings foursomes at the lovely Stoneridge Golf Club in Stillwater. More info at www.stoneridgegc.com.


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