Cincinnati Bengals (0-0) at Atlanta Falcons (0-0)
|Date & Time||Thursday August 8, 2013, 8:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Atlanta Falcons -4 -- Over/Under: 36.5
The Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals face off on Thursday in Atlanta as two playoff teams from last season play their first preseason game of 2013.
The Atlanta Falcons have been a perennial playoff team over the past several years, but will this be the year that they finally turn the corner? Matt Ryan has emerged as one of the top QB’s in the NFL and while his backups see little action, Dominique Davis, Sean Renfree, and Seth Doege will all compete for a roster spot and playing time. Steven Jackson was brought in to replace Michael Turner at running back and Jacquizz Rodgers sees plenty of action and with Jason Snelling and Antone Smith, the Falcons seem set in the backfield. Julio Jones and Roddy White are a solid set of wide receivers, but the battle is behind them with Harry Douglas, James Rodgers, Drew Davis, Kevin Coone and others. Tony Gonzalez won’t be in action for this one so we will see Levine Toilolo, Chase Coffman, and Tommy Gallarda as the Falcons look not just for depth, but to the future.
Defensively, the Falcons hope Osi Umenyiora brings leadership and winning from the Giants as he lines up next to Peria Jerry, Jonathan Babineaux, and Kroy Bierman but this game is more about the depth and who will emerge whether it be Corey Peters, Micanor Regis, or Stansley Mopona or one of the many others who will take the field. Sean Weatherspoon anchors the linebacking corps with Akeem Dent and Stephen Nicholas but the Falcons look for more depth with Robert James, Pat Schiller, Joplo Bartu and more. Asante Samuel and Demond Trufant man the corners with William Moore and Thomas DeCoud at safety but the Falcons know the importance of depth in the secondary as well in today’s pass happy NFL.
The Cincinnati Bengals have been to the playoffs the past two seasons but now it is time for them to step up and start winning playoff games. Andy Dalton is in his third year at QB and he is backed up by Josh Johnson, John Skelton, and Zac Robison in what should be a fight for the depth chart. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was a huge upgrade at running back a year ago, but he looks to just be a placeholder until Giovani Bernard is ready to take over and veterans Bernard Scott and Cedric Peerman appear to be role players once again. A.J. Green is one of the top wide receivers in the game, but he can’t continue to do it alone and Mohamed Sanu gets his chance as a starter, while the Bengals are hoping someone else emerges like Cobi Hamilton, Marvin Jones, or Brandon Tate. Jermaine Gresham is a top tier tight end but by getting Tyler Eifert the Bengals may be sending him a message.
Defensively Cincinnati gets at the QB and Michael Johnson, Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, and Domata Peko figure to be as good of a front four as there is in the game, but even so the depth is important with Robert Geathers, Margus Hunt, Devon Still, Wallace Gillberry and several others who will be competing. Rey Maualuga was surprisingly resigned and the Bengals picked up James Harrison, while last year’s free agent steal, Vontaze Burfict starts. Leon Hall and Dre Kirkpatrick make up the starting corners and Shawn Williams and Reggie Nelson are hitters at safety, but the Bengals have no shortage of depth with Adam Jones, Brandon Ghee, Taylor Mays, Terrence Newman and no less than five others who will most likely be battling for roster spots.
Normally in these preseason games I like the teams who have beat backup QB’s and I am not thrilled in that department with either of these teams. While the Falcons starting unit has the edge, I like the Bengals depth on defense and I see that getting it done for them here in a game I won’t be playing, just watching.