The Cincinnati Bengals are entering week 13 as they prepare to take on the New York Jets. With every game of the season, there will be things to watch and focus on. Here are five things to watch for in week 13.
1. Andy Dalton’s Return
After giving Ryan Finley three games to start, the Bengals are making the change back to Andy Dalton. Finley failed to move the ball and the offense suffered. In his three starts, the most points the team scored was 13, which came against the Ravens. Finley fumbled four times and threw three interceptions as well.
Dalton takes over for the Bengals in a stretch where they can win some games. This week, they get the Jets, who are only favored by 3.5. He was in the top five in passing yards when he was benched and should be able to have a good game against the Jets. The only problem is that Dalton wasn’t the problem when he was benched and won’t be the problem again.
2. Will the Running Game Keep it up
When Dalton was playing, the running game was not going well. Joe Mixon was having a tough time finding room and the offensive line wasn’t playing well. Since that point, the Bengals have three-straight 100-yard rushing performances. If they can do that with Dalton in the lineup, the offense can be more balanced this time around.
A few things are working in the Bengals’ favor if they want to keep the running game up. Mixon is clearly running better and Cordy Glenn is back in the lineup at left tackle. Unfortunately though, the Jets allow just 78.1 rushing yards per game.
3. Will A.J. Green Finally Return?
As every Bengals fan knows, A.J. Green has not played a snap this season. He injured his foot in the preseason and although he was only supposed to miss the first month or so of the season, the rehab has taken longer than expected. If he returns, it adds another dimension to the offense for Cincinnati.
Green was running routes with Andy Dalton before the game and has been close to returning for several weeks. For Green to increase his value before signing a new contract, he has to show what he can do on the field again. If he returns in this game, he could have a big one.
4. Can the Defense Keep it up?
Over the last two weeks, the defense has really stepped it up. They allowed just 17 points to the Raiders and 16 points to the Steelers. While those aren’t the best offensive teams, it was a big step for this defense, who has been really bad at points this year. Hopefully, they can play well the rest of the season and that can extend to next season.
The Jets do not have a good offense, as they score just 18 points per game. Sam Darnold has improved since coming back from mono. It will be tougher than the numbers indicate, but the Bengals are capable of holding a third straight opponent to under 20 points per game.
5. Germaine Pratt’s Play
Since the release of Preston Brown, Germaine Pratt’s role on the defense has increased. As a third-round pick, he is a developmental player, but now is getting his chance. He led the team in tackles last week against the Steelers and is taking advantage of his opportunity.
For the future of the Bengals, it would be best if Pratt can continue to develop. He and the defense will need to play big against the Jets to let their offense get moving with Dalton at quarterback again. Pratt can improve from game to game and should be watched this week.