GMen HQ Takes a Walk on the Wild Side with Stripe Hype
The Cincinnati Bengals (3-4-1) come to MetLife Stadium for a Monday night clash with the New York Giants (5-3). The Bengals are coming off of their bye, while the Giants defeated the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. These teams have only met nine times with Cincy leading the series 6-3. The last time the teams faced each other was 2012, the Bengals spanked the G-Men 31-13. GMen HQ caught up with Stripe Hype co-expert Emile Pierce to talk about the “Monday Night Football” contest.
GMen HQ: Many analysts thought that the Bengals would be a strong AFC contender, but instead they’ve taken a step back. What’s gone wrong?
Emile Pierce: No need to guess here. There’s definitely a funk in the air…it’s the remnants of that Wild Card meltdown with the Steelers. The defense hasn’t been the attacking bunch that helped guide the Bengals to the postseason. After Vontaze Burfict was slapped with the three-game suspension, the fire seemed to die. He hasn’t been the same since he returned. Could it be because the league is watching him like a hawk? Uh, yes and yes again. Also, the offense is under the guidance of a new leader. Ken Zampese has the bloodline to get the job done, but he’s still experimenting. The return of Tyler Eifert should make play calling a bit easier.
GMen HQ: Uncharacteristically, the AFC North has been a mediocre division this season, do you think the Bengals can still come out on top?
EP: Cincinnati has a chance to turn things around…but the time is now. Marvelous Marv has to remind the players that they were in a similar situation four years ago. The Bengals were a 3-5 team in the hunt for a playoff spot and needed things to change quickly. A Week 10 showdown with the Giants yielded a 31-13 win over the Super Bowl Champions. The Bengals went on to the postseason. If the Bengals are mentally prepared for the second half of the season, lightning could strike twice.
GMen HQ: The Giants and Bengals have only played three times since 2000, so we don’t get to see you that much. Tell us who we should look out for offensively and defensively.
EP: Offensively, the firepower is coming from A.J. Green. He’s having a monster year, and Andy Dalton has overthrown him a few times. Eifert will be Dalton’s big target in the red zone. Tyler can go up and get the rock. On the other side of the ball, Geno Atkins is due for a big game. His performance isn’t matching his 2015 Pro Bowl output, but he’s a beast in the middle. Carlos Dunlap and Burfict can cause trouble in the backfield. Will Clarke is a speedy sleeper. Be on the lookout for him.
GMen HQ: One of the players that we know about is former Rutgers-product Mohammed Sanu (now with Atlanta). Do the Bengals miss him? Why or why not?
EP: Here’s where many Bengals fans get it twisted. I’m a homer, but I believe in raw numbers. Mohamed Sanu was a fan favorite. But, the plan was to upgrade in his absence. So far, Cincinnati has done just that. At last glance, Sanu has 37 receptions for 416 yards and three TDs. Well, Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd have combined for 53 receptions, 661 yards and four trips to the end zone. Their combined YPC is 12.5 to Sanu’s 11.2. I’d say his production is matched and Bengals’ brass came through. Now, it’s a matter of Dalton and Zampese working Boyd into the mix. Missed as a cool guy…not as a weapon.
GMen HQ: Here on the East coast, we think of Cincinnati as a baseball town. Does the area/region embrace the Bengals? Or are they second fiddle to the Reds?
EP: At this point, the Reds are a blip on the radar screen. More than a few things need to be addressed before the Big Red Machine can be brought back. Cincinnati will always be a baseball town. But with the current playoff run of the Bengals, they aren’t the heartthrob of the city. Unless the Redlegs turn things around immediately, the Bengals are the main show. Summers are endured until training camp begins.
GMenHQ: Give us your prediction for the game.
EP: The Bengals need a win in the worst way. Fighting to a tie in London was an embarrassment. The AFC North looks ripe for the taking but it has to start with error-free football in prime time. Eli Manning has a great game as the Bengals win 20-14.
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