Well, here we are … opening weekend! It’s a great time for any football fan, and we started the season off on the right note with the Broncos’ nail-biting 21-20 win over the Panthers on Thursday night. The best way to follow it up is with Sunday’s great matchups – not the least of which is Cincinnati traveling to New York to take on the Jets.
Here are 3 things to watch for as the Bengals kick off their season:
1. Crucial matchup – Jets passing game vs bruised Bengals secondary. New York’s passing attack this Sunday will be dangerous for 2 reasons. First, receivers Brandon Marshall (109 catches for 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns last year) and Eric Decker (80 for 1,207 and 12) are as good a WR duo as you’ll find. Second, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick ended the 2015 season by tossing 3 picks against Buffalo – and he’s eager to wash that taste out of his mouth. Cincy cornerback Darqueze Dennard is doubtful, so the remaining Bengals unit will have to be firing on all cylinders to keep up.
2. Running out of running backs. With tailback Cedric Peerman on injured reserve with a broken left forearm, Cincinnati only has three RBs on the roster as they open their season. That’s not the news you want to hear when your team is facing the #2 ranked rushing defense from 2015. It will be interesting to see not only the offensive strategy that the Bengals employ, but the steps they take to make sure their running backs don’t take too much of a pounding.
3. Can the Bengals set the tone? A big part of making 2016 special involves going on the road in Week 1 against a tough opponent and punching them in the mouth. Win on Sunday and you let the AFC know you’re not fooling around. Lose, and you’re mentally behind the 8-ball after only one game. Cincinnati has made the playoffs each of the last 5 years, so the expectations are there. But their postseason record during that span is 0-5, so the we-can’t-get-past-the-first-round mindset is there, too. What message will Cincy send?