The Cincinnati Bengals are entering week 10 as they prepare to take on the Baltimore Ravens. With every game of the season, there will be things to watch and focus on. Here are five things to watch for in week 10.
1. Ryan Finley’s Debut
The biggest storyline in this game for the Bengals will be Ryan Finley. Finley, the fourth-round pick, will be making his first career start. He has been criticized for having below-average arm strength, but he did look good in the preseason. He had over 11,000 yards passing hin his college career, so fans will get a chance to see if he can produce similarly in the NFL.
It is a big test for Finley to play the Ravens in his first career game. He does have the benefit of having two weeks to prepare, as the Bengals were on bye last week. This will give a good look at his potential for the future and will also solve a lot of questions on who is to blame for the Bengals sputtering on offense.
2. How Helpful Will Andy Dalton be to Finley?
Andy Dalton was benched in favor of a rookie after the team started 0-8. He wasn’t the only reason the team was losing, but sometimes changes need to be made in order to give a spark to the team. Dalton was reasonably unhappy with his benching, and the timing of it, as he wishes he could have been traded to a team that could use him.
Now, Dalton is stuck on the Bengals for the rest of the season because the team doesn’t make trades very often. It would be best for the team if he helps Finley, but that will be tough to do with a bruised ego. If he doesn’t help out Finley, it doesn’t mean it won’t work out for the rookie quarterback, but it would make things easier on him.
3. A.J. Green’s Return
Bengals fans are probably reluctant to hold their breath, but A.J. Green is finally reportedly returning from his foot injury this week. Green has been one of the best receivers in the past, but has battled injuries in the last few seasons. If he can return to his former self, it would vastly improve this team.
Cincinnati hasn’t had a number one receiver all season long. The offense was still near the top of the league in passing yards, but that was because the team has been trailing every game. If Zac Taylor’s offense has a number one receiver, how will it look? That could be the biggest answer fans get out of this game, as most are looking forward to the NFL Draft or next season.
*A.J. Green has since re-aggravated his injury and will not play.
4. Can the Defensive Line Stay Disciplined?
Last time the Bengals played the Ravens, Lamar Jackson had a big day. That is to be expected, as the second-year player is one of the frontrunners to win the MVP and Cincinnati does not have a good defense. At some point, the Bengals will have to find a way to stop Jackson, because it looks like he’ll be in the division for a long time.
The best way to stop Jackson is to have solid coverage downfield and to have a defensive line who stays disciplined. They can’t be pushed too far upfield and can’t collapse in on the line either. If they hold their stances and limit running lanes, they can at least slow Jackson down. When they get more talent in future years, hopefully, they can figure out ways to shut him down completely.
5. Will the bye Help the Running Game improve?
This season, the Bengals have ranked dead last in running the ball at 59.5 yards per game. The offensive line is mostly at fault, as they get no push. Joe Mixon has also not played his best, but the circumstances make it very tough. The running game is a young quarterback’s best friend, so they have to find a way to help Finley out by running the ball.
The offensive line likely won’t vastly improve in talent, but hopefully, Zac Taylor has some ideas on how to get more out of Mixon in the running game. Good coaches make adjustments and with two weeks to think about it, Taylor has to show improvement in the team’s biggest weakness.