|1:25 PM PT2:25 PM MT3:25 PM CT4:25 PM ET20:25 GMT4:25 1:25 PM MST3:25 PM EST3:25 PM CT0:25 UAE (+1)16:25 ETNaN:� , September 24, 2017|
Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin Weather: 89°, Clear Attendance: 78,323
Packers' struggling defense meets Bengals' struggling offense
Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay Packers
- Cincinnati suffered through a second straight poor offensive performance and fell to the Texans at home on Thursday, 13-9. The Bengals reached the red zone three times, settling for three Randy Bullock field goals -- their first nine points of the season -- and failed to score a touchdown for the second consecutive week. The Texans held a 168-82 advantage in rushing yards, with QB Deshaun Watson's 49-yard jaunt in the second quarter accounting for the game's only touchdown. Andy Dalton passed for 224 yards for the losers; he was sacked three times and ran his season total to 66 pass attempts with no touchdown passes.
- In a rematch of last season's NFC Championship Game, the Packers fell to the Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday night, 34-23. Green Bay committed 10 penalties, and a pair of Aaron Rodgers giveaways led to 14 Atlanta points; the Falcons scored 17 unanswered points in a 4:17 span bridging the second and third quarters to take a 31-7 lead. Rodgers passed for 343 yards and a pair of touchdowns; his one-yard TD pass to Ty Montgomery with 5:51 remaining was the 300th of his career. Davante Adams had eight receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown for the Packers, who were outgained on the ground, 141 yards to 59.
- The Bengals are 1-4 all-time at Lambeau Field, winning in their last visit to Green Bay in 2009, 31-24. Cincinnati has won the last three games in the series, and each of the last four games between the teams -- and six of the last seven -- have been decided by seven points or fewer.
- For the first time in his career, Andy Dalton has failed to throw a touchdown pass over the first two games of a season; Dalton's four interceptions are the most he's ever thrown through two games. His five total giveaways in 2017 are tied for the most in the league (DeShone Kizer also has five).
- Aaron Rodgers is 0-2 in his career against Cincinnati, and has been sacked 10 times in the two times he's played against the Bengals. In three September games a year ago, Rodgers threw seven TD passes while averaging only 205.7 yards per contest. The numbers this season are flipped: through two games, Rodgers is averaging 327.0 yards per game, but has been limited to three TD passes.
- A loss on Sunday would drop the Packers to 1-2; the team has been under .500 at some point in four of the last five seasons, but has made the playoffs in each year dating back to 2009. For the Bengals, a loss would mean an 0-3 start for the first time since 2008 and just the third time in Marvin Lewis' 15 seasons as head coach.
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The Green Bay Packers gave up 34 points in Sunday night's loss at Atlanta.
The Cincinnati Bengals have scored nine points while starting the season 0-2.
One of these struggling units should be feeling better about things after Sunday's game at Lambeau Field.
The Bengals haven't scored a touchdown in losses to Baltimore and Houston at home. A day after the 13-9 loss to the Texans, longtime coach Marvin Lewis fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor.
"We have to have a direction of execution and things have to fit together and we've got to provide opportunity to attack the defense," Lewis said. "We've got to do a great job attacking what is our perceived weakness of the defense and get the ball to our guys who can make plays."
That starts with getting quarterback Andy Dalton back on track. Dalton, who is coming off his two best seasons, with a career-high passer rating of 106.2 in 2015 and a career-high completion rate of 64.7 percent in 2016, owns the worst passer rating in the league at 47.2 and the next-to-worst completion rate at 54.5 percent.
Dalton has thrown four interceptions and been sacked eight times behind a shaky offensive line that has struggled to replace left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right guard Kevin Zeitler, who left in free agency.
Green Bay's defense got off to an impressive start vs. Seattle in a 17-9 win to open the season but got exposed, again, in a 34-23 loss at Atlanta. The Packers couldn't stop Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (252 passing yards, 108.0 rating), receiver Julio Jones (five catches, 108 yards) or the running game (5.2-yard average).
Early in that game, Green Bay inserted cornerback Kevin King, a first-round draft pick, into the lineup and he gave up only one catch.
With Lewis looking to get the ball more to his playmakers, King and fellow cornerback Davon House will be tested by star Bengals receiver A.J. Green. Green had 1,000-yard receiving years in each of his first five seasons and would have done it again last year if not for missing six games because of injury. He has caught 10 passes for 141 yards to start this year.
While Cincinnati's offense has been horrible, the defense has played well enough to win both games. The Bengals have given up 20 points or fewer in eight of their last nine, including both games this season.
In the opener against Baltimore, Cincinnati lost 20-0 due, in large part, to five giveaways. Last week against Houston, the Bengals gave up only 266 yards, including 98 net passing yards, but lost 13-9.
Lewis knows his defense will face a much bigger challenge against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers than it did last week against rookie Deshaun Watson. Lewis has had some success vs. Rodgers, though. In matchups in 2009 and 2013, Cincinnati won both games and held Rodgers to a passer rating of 73.5.
"He's an outstanding player," Lewis said of Rodgers. "He has a great command of their offense and what Mike wants done. He knows the system inside and out, knows where everybody belongs (and gets) everybody to the right spots. And then he's able to just do a great job of delivering the football. And then he extends them with his arms, his legs.
"I think the thing we just impress upon our players is this is an all-day sucker, man. We've got to play the run, we've got to tackle and then, when we get in coverage and rush, we've got to be consistent and we've got to play tenacious and stay after it."
Injuries again will be a factor for the Packers. Seven starters were out by the end of the Atlanta game. Offensive tackles David Bakhtiari (hamstring) and Bryan Bulaga (ankle) were inactive, and receivers Jordy Nelson (quad) and Randall Cobb (chest), House (quad), safety Kentrell Brice (groin) and defensive tackle Mike Daniels (hip) dropped out during the game. Nelson and Bulaga were full participants on Wednesday, but Bakhtiari, Brice, Cobb, Daniels, House and outside linebacker Nick Perry (hand) were among eight players who did not practice.
"We expect to play well every time we're out there," Rodgers said. "No matter who's out there, they're all professionals. There's an expectation of a style of play and a performance that we all have for ourselves and for each other. So whoever's out there lining up is going to be expected to play well."
Cincinnati, tight end Tyler Eifert (back) was ruled out Friday and right guard Trey Hopkins (knee) will miss his second straight game.
Updated September 22, 2017