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Game Preview: Atlanta Falcons vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Game Details

  • Match-up: Atlanta Falcons (1-0) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (1-0)
  • Location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
  • Date: September 14, 2014
  • Time: 1:00 PM EST
  • TV: CBS

Key Match-up

The Atlanta Falcons offensive line vs. the Cincinnati Bengals front seven.  The Falcons offensive line did extremely well in the first game against a strong Saints front seven.  However, the number six overall pick, offensive tackle Jake Matthews, suffered a high ankle sprain.  A high ankle sprain usually takes 4-6 weeks to heal.  Though this particular injury seems to be a very mild sprain, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Matthews miss Sunday’s game (as well as next Thursday’s game vs. Tampa Bay).  That means Gabe Carimi would move to the tackle spot.  While the Falcons can survive this, Carimi did give up some pressure to the Saints defensive line late in the game in Week 1.  The Atlanta Falcons defense is still young and going through some growing pains.  The Falcons are relying on simply outscoring most of their opponents this season and this game is no exception.  If they want to do that, the offensive line must hold up against a stout Bengals defense.

Players to Watch

For the Falcons, the X-factor is Devin Hester.  While Bears fans may laugh, Hester had a great preseason and extended his good play into the regular season.  Hester caught five balls on six targets for 99 yards in the Falcons season opener.  Matt Ryan had a career day going 31/43 for 448 yards and 3 touchdowns thanks in large part to Devin Hester, who gives the Falcons another great option when they go into their four receiver sets.  For the Bengals, all eyes will be on AJ Green, deservedly so.  However, I believe the player to watch is RB Giovanni Bernard.  While Bernard only gained 48 yards on 14 carries in the Bengals opener he was a great option out of the backfield for QB Andy Dalton, catching six balls for 62 yards.  I’m sure the Falcons are focusing much of their game-plan on limiting AJ Green, but they also need to be aware of the speed and quickness of Bernard if they want to make some key stops in this game.

Prediction

Much like the 37-34 OT win for the Falcons in Week 1, I expect another high scoring affair.  I think Matt Ryan has another great game and the Falcons corners create some key turnovers.  Falcons win 31-27 spoiling the Bengals hopes for a 10th consecutive home opener win.