The Cincinnati Bengals are entering week 11 as they prepare to take on the Oakland Raiders. With every game of the season, there will be things to watch and focus on. Here are five things to watch for in week 11.
1. Ryan Finley’s Improvement
Ryan Finley had a decent first game for the Bengals against the Ravens. He was 16 of 30 passing for 169 yards, one touchdown and one interception. It wasn’t the best debut for a new quarterback, but it wasn’t terrible either. He played a tough defense in the Ravens and now that his debut is out of the way, he can focus on what to improve on.
This week he will prepare for the Oakland Raiders. Oakland gives up the third-most passing yards in the league. It will be Finley’s first road game, but it should be easier to move the ball against the Raiders. Look for Finley to improve given the competition and given the fact that he has some experience under his belt,.
2. A.J. Green’s Return (Hopefully)
In this article last week, this was something to watch for, but Green re-aggravated his injury and was unable to go. Fans will want to see him back out on the field to help the lackluster offense with a rookie quarterback. There is a possibility he plays this week against the Raiders.
Green needs to get back on the field for his own purposes as well. He is in a contract year and will want to prove to teams that he still has some left in the tank. With only nine games played in the last two seasons, he has a burden of proof if he wants to get a contract he truly desires. Against the Raiders, he should be able to come back with a bang.
3. Can the Running Game Continue to Improve?
Against the Ravens, the Bengals ran the ball about as well as they have all season. Joe Mixon rushed for 114 yards and the team combined for 157 total. That isn’t exactly a good number, but it is good for a team that has ranked near the bottom of the league in rushing yards this season. They’ll need to continue to improve the run game to give Finley something to rely upon.
While Oakland doesn’t have a good pass defense, they have played well against the run. They rank 10th against the run this season. There is some good news though, as the Bengals did well in this regard against Baltimore who ranks eighth. Zac Taylor should be able to find ways to be successful on the ground in this game.
4. Will Zac Taylor Make Better Adjustments?
The Bengals are bad this season, that is known. But even bad teams win games. The Miami Dolphins have now won two games and their team has less talent than the Bengals. Making adjustments in the season or even in the game can help teams win games, but the Bengals have been unable to do so this season.
Oakland is another team that doesn’t have a ton of talent, but Jon Gruden has coached them to be in playoff contention. Zac Taylor doesn’t necessarily have to be the best coach in the world, but he does have to start showing some adjustments. Watching the gameplan against the Raiders will show a lot about Taylor’s true coaching abilities, as there haven’t been many bright spots yet.
5. Defensive Linemen Hitting Milestones
With the Bengals so far out of the playoff race, fans are already looking forward to next season. There are still things to watch for with this current group of Bengals, but it is different than teams who are actually winning. Two of the Bengals’ all-time greats are approaching a milestone this week, which would be a nice little note on an otherwise forgetful season.
Geno Atkins has 74 sacks and Carlos Dunlap has 73.5 sacks for their careers. They are approaching 75 career sacks, something only 79 players in NFL history have accomplished. The two aging defensive linemen still have time to work their way up the list even further. Two long-time Bengals getting more accolades is great for a team that has one career Hall of Famer.