Cincinnati Bengals (0-2 preseason) at Arizona Cardinals (1-1 preseason)
|Date & Time||Sunday August 24, 2014, 8:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Arizona Cardinals -3 -- Over/Under: 44.5
The Arizona Cardinals host the Cincinnati Bengals on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
The Cincinnati Bengals are 0-2 to start the preseason with a 41-39 loss to the Chiefs in week one and a 25-17 loss against the Jets last week. The Bengals are coming off three straight seasons of losing in the Wild Card round of the playoffs as QB Andy Dalton enters this season still searching for his first postseason win. Dalton barely saw the field in the preseason opener but managed to rack up 71 yards while completing 3/5 passes, and in week two he went a perfect 8/8 in limited work accumulating 144 yards and one TD. Journeyman Jason Campbell is next on the depth chart at QB and would be a decent option if his elbow injury isn’t in fact too serious, and rookie Matt Scott from Arizona sits behind him with a decent amount of potential.
The Bengals mostly made a name for themselves on the defensive side of the ball last season ranking 5th in both rushing and passing yards allowed, but the passing offense with A.J. Green is where the Bengals will do maximum damage. Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Jermaine Gresham are all strong complementary pass catchers that make this aerial attack one of the stronger units in the AFC. Out of the backfield, Giovani Bernard looks to carry forward last season’s momentum and the law firm BenJarvus Green-Ellis is next on the depth chart making the offense pretty potent as a whole.
Head coach Marvin Lewis is 23-24 all time in the preseason, but he doesn’t seem too keen on going for the win in week three which is considered the starters’ dress rehearsal, owning a record of just 2-9.
The Arizona Cardinals might have been a playoff team in 2013 if not for playing in the ultra-competitive NFC West, but nonetheless the team continues to battle and build as they are on the radar of many analysts as a sleeper contender. The Cardinals have begun the exhibition season with a 1-1 record after whalloping the Texans 32-0 in week one and losing a tight one on the road to the Vikings in week two by a score of 30-28. Carson Palmer maintains control of the offense in Arizona and has seen limited action in both games completing a total of 9/13 passes for a total of 175 yards and 1 TD. Drew Stanton is a decent backup behind Palmer and two different QB’s have seen work in the third spot on the depth chart with Logan Thomas playing and excelling in week one and Ryan Lindley struggling in week two.
As is now customary in the NFC West, the Cardinals hang their hat on their defense which ranked 1st in the league in rushing yards allowed last season giving up just 84.4 yards per game. The attention still goes to players like star wideout Larry Fitzgerald though who is one of the best receivers in the game despite suffering through an awful stretch of QB’s who couldn’t get him the ball before Palmer came to town. Michael Floyd could be poised for a breakout season as well in his third year out of Notre Dame and Ted Ginn Jr. also comes over to strengthen the aerial attack. The ground game struggled last year and the backfield doesn’t look especially deep in 2014 with Andre Ellington as the starter and Stepfan Taylor and Jonathan Dwyer playing backup roles.
Head coach Bruce Arians has a very small preseason track record to work with but went 3-1 in last year’s exhibition campaign.
While Marvin Lewis has failed to excel in week three of the preseason, I will back the Bengals getting a field goal in a game that feels like a coin flip.