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Opposition Analysis and Research: Cincinnati Edition

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A statistical look at Minnesota’s opponent on Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals

Minnesota Vikings v Cincinnati Bengals
Treadwell has made strides this season to be a better receiver for the Vikings. Let’s hope he can continue his steady play through the remainder of the season.
Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

Most unfortunately, this will be the first OAR written in the week following a Vikings loss. I’m also hoping that this will be the last OAR I have to write following a Vikings loss, so let’s see how things go this week against the Bengals. It was a mistake-filled Vikings team that took the field against the Panthers. If they clean up their mistakes, they should have no problem handling this week’s team, the Cincinnati Bengals. The Vikings are 2-1 against the AFC North so far this season, so buckle in and take a look at the final AFC North team the Vikings will face this season.

Schedule

The Bengals have faced one of the easiest schedules in the NFL this season (second-easiest in the NFL (.444 Strength of Schedule), with only the Titans facing an easier schedule)) and, well, have not taken advantage of it. Their strength of victory is a truly pathetic .215, as their wins have come against the Browns (twice), the Bills, the Colts, and the Broncos. Those five teams have a combined record of 14-33 when not including their losses to the Bengals. Their only even moderately impressive win came against the Bills and they still turned the ball over three times that game.

The Bengals have gone through an interesting stretch of their season. Like the Vikings, Cincy went on the road for three straight weeks, then they came home and played three straight home games. The Bengals are 2-4 on the road, though their last road game against the Broncos saw the Bengals hold off Denver for a 20-17 win. The rest of their road games saw them lose to the Packers in OT in Week 3 (27-24), beat the Browns (31-7), lose to the Steelers (29-14), lose to the Jags (23-7), and lose to the Titans (24-20).

Compared to the last stretch of games we have played, the Bengals are easily one of the weakest teams we will play this season. At the moment, the Bengals are averaging 19.3 points per game on the road and allowing 21.2 points per game on the road, so their offense hasn’t exactly been a must-watch when they take their operation on the road.

Most recent game

Their most recent game saw a wounded and broken-down Bengals team welcome the Bears into Paul Brown Stadium and get absolutely eviscerated, 33-7. Cincy’s only points came on a 14-yard pass from quarterback Andy Dalton to wide receiver Brandon LaFell with 2:15 remaining in the first quarter. The Bears held the Bengals off the score sheet from there while piling up the points.

Dalton’s stat line was not good either: 14/29 (48%) for 141 yards, one touchdown, one INT and a passer rating of 59.7. Dalton was replaced on the final few series by A.J. McCarron and McCarron went 4/8 for 47 yards and took a sack. Giovani Bernard led the Bengals in rushing with 62 yards on 11 carries (5.64 YPC) and was also Cincinnati’s leading receiver as he made six catches on eight targets for 68 yards. A.J. Green caught just five of 12 targets for 64 yards and lost a fumble.

The Bears took advantage of Cincinnati’s wounded defense all day long. Mitch Trubisky went 25/32 for 271 yards and a touchdown and ran twice for five yards and a score. Jordan Howard went ham as well as he exploded for 147 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries (6.4 YPC) and Tarik Cohen added 80 yards of his own on just 12 carries (6.7 YPC). Kendall Wright led the Bears in receiving with 10 catches on 11 targets for 107 yards and tight end Adam Shaheen added four catches on five targets for 44 yards and a touchdown.

Now let’s see what the Vikings can expect from this Bengals team on Sunday.

Offense

Ground game

This is either the weakest rushing attack the Vikings have faced all season or the weakest one they have faced in a long while. This is a bottom-three rushing offense the Bengals are fielding this season and it’s not likely to get better against the Vikings.

Cincinnati’s running game

Player Attempts (Rank) Yards (Rank) Yards per attempt (Rank) Rushing touchdowns (Rank) DYAR (Rank) DVOA (Rank)
Player Attempts (Rank) Yards (Rank) Yards per attempt (Rank) Rushing touchdowns (Rank) DYAR (Rank) DVOA (Rank)
Joe Mixon 157 (17) 518 (29) 3.3 (188) 4 (t-25) 72 (14) 2.7% (14)
Gio Bernard 58 (68) 260 (66) 4.5 (t-88) 0 (t-111) 37 (DNQ) 9.0% (DNQ)
Jeremy Hill 37 (91) 116 (104) 3.1 (t-196) 0 (t-111) 1 (DNQ) -7.7% (DNQ)
Andy Dalton 33 (98) 102 (106) 3.1 (t-196) 0 (t-111) 33 (15) 21.4% (16)

Cincinnati’s running game has all the ineffectiveness of the Carolina ground game without any of the benefits. Joe Mixon has been their lead back due to injuries (Jeremy Hill is currently on IR) and ineffectual play (Gio Bernard), but he missed last week with a concussion that was sustained in the bloodbath that was the Pittsburgh/Cincinnati matchup in Week 13.

The Bengals have the 17th-ranked rush offense by DVOA (-7.4%), but I’m not sure that tells as complete a story about their run game as it should. The Bengals are 31st in rushing attempts (293), 31st in rushing yards (1032), 29th in rushing touchdowns (4), and 30th in yards per attempt (3.5). They only have 57 rushing first downs on the season, meaning they are averaging 4.4 rushing first downs per game. That’s....well, not a lot. Not a single player on the Bengals has run the ball for more than 25 yards in a single carry this season, either, as Dalton’s, Mixon’s and Bernard’s longest carries this season have all gone for 25 yards each. Cincinnati’s four rushing touchdowns came from 11, 7, 5 and 3 yards away, so the Bengals do have a slight ability to score from farther out than just at the goal line using running plays. But all of those plays were made by Mixon, and there’s no guarantee he will play on Sunday.

The Bengals have run for more than 100 yards just three times this season. They came against the Browns (152 yards), Steelers (130 yards), and Packers (110 yards). The Bengals are also 1-2 when they rush for more than 100 yards, so even success on the ground hasn’t meant that they will have success on the scoreboard. Obviously they have been held under 100 yards rushing in their other 10 games, and were held to a measly 29 yards on the ground against the Jaguars in Week 9. So this is a ground game that can be ground to a halt with relative ease.

Football Outsiders: Cincinnati’s OL

Cincinnati's Offensive Line Adjusted line yards (Rank) Power success (Rank) Stuffed percentage (Rank) 2nd level yards (Rank) Open field yards (Rank) ALY: Left End (Rank) ALY: Left tackle (Rank) ALY: Mid/Guard (Rank) ALY: Right tackle (Rank) ALY: Right end (Rank) Adjusted sack rate (Rank)
Cincinnati's Offensive Line Adjusted line yards (Rank) Power success (Rank) Stuffed percentage (Rank) 2nd level yards (Rank) Open field yards (Rank) ALY: Left End (Rank) ALY: Left tackle (Rank) ALY: Mid/Guard (Rank) ALY: Right tackle (Rank) ALY: Right end (Rank) Adjusted sack rate (Rank)
2017 3.60 (28) 54% (28) 20% (14) 1.16 (15) .42 (29) 1.36 (32) 4.22 (15) 4.18 (15) 2.94 (29) 3.49 (23) 7.7% (t-22)

This is not a good run-blocking offensive line. They are poor in getting run-based first downs when they need it (backed up both by ranking 28th in power success and having so few rushing first downs), are only average in getting yards at the second level and are simply dreadful at getting long runs.

What’s truly astounding to me, though, is that they are literally the worst team in the NFL when they try and run off the left end. They are averaging less than a yard and a half per carry on plays that go in that direction, which is hilariously bad (the NFL average is 3.99). They are nearly as bad on runs going towards their right tackle, so basically their only hope is pounding it up the middle. Luckily, that’s where Linval Joseph makes his home, so that should be an advantage for the Vikings on Sunday.

This is a below-average line in pass-blocking as well, so the Vikings should be able to pick up a few sacks of Dalton this week.

Cincinnati’s passing game

Player Targets Receptions Yards Receiving touchdowns Catch % DYAR (Rank) DVOA (Rank) DPI
Player Targets Receptions Yards Receiving touchdowns Catch % DYAR (Rank) DVOA (Rank) DPI
A.J. Green 119 65 950 8 54.60% 80 (t-41) -4.3% (55) 3/31
Brandon LaFell 73 44 452 3 60.30% -28 (68) -17.5% (68) 2/20
Tyler Kroft 45 33 347 5 73.30% 65 (10) 14.1% (11) 0
Giovani Bernard 39 27 306 2 69.20% 31 (22) 2% (22) 0
Joe Mixon 30 27 266 0 90% 6 (35) -10.2% (33) 0
Tyler Boyd 19 12 95 1 63.20% 12 (DNQ) -4.3% (DNQ) 0
Alex Erickson 14 11 169 1 78.60% 49 (DNQ) 33.4% (DNQ) 0

So the Bengals have a more varied passing game than the Panthers did, but they certainly have loved to focus in on A.J. Green (as they should). Of course, Cincinnati’s receiving options aren’t quite at the level that they were in 2015, when Dalton had Green, a mostly-healthy Tyler Eifert, Marvin Jones AND Mohamed Sanu running routes. Their secondary options are now Brandon LaFell, second-string tight end Tyler Kroft (Eifert is once again on IR, this time with a back injury), and Alex Erickson.

Bernard and Mixon have combined for 54 catches, 572 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns, so the Vikings will need to be keeping a close eye on those two coming out of the backfield. Erickson is obviously one of Cincy’s deep threats, so staying on him when he’s on the field will be important as well.

There’s not a whole lot to say. This passing game goes where A.J. Green takes it; if he has a good game, the Bengals are better because of it. If he’s taken away by a good corner, they struggle and they struggle hard.

Quarterback

Player Comp./Att. (Comp %) Yards TD/INT Y/A (Rank) AY/A (Rank) Quarterback rating (Rank) QBR (rank) NY/A (Rank) ANY/A (Rank) DYAR (Rank) DVOA (Rank)
Player Comp./Att. (Comp %) Yards TD/INT Y/A (Rank) AY/A (Rank) Quarterback rating (Rank) QBR (rank) NY/A (Rank) ANY/A (Rank) DYAR (Rank) DVOA (Rank)
Andy Dalton 236/389 (60.7%) 2747 21/9 7.1 (19) 7.1 (17) 90.4 (17) 41.9 (t-25) 6.02 (21) 6.05 (19) 51 (23) -9.2% (23)

2017 is shaping up to be one of Andy Dalton’s worst in the NFL. He is on pace for 3381 yards, which would be his second-lowest total in the league after his 2015 season. He is on pace for the fewest yards per game of his career, his worst QBR in the NFL and, depending on how the last few games go, could easily have his worst net yards per attempt of his career. Dalton has usually been considered the gold (or red) standard for average quarterbacking and he’s more or less playing like an average or slightly below-average quarterback this season. Not a whole lot stands out about his play, other than him doing a fairly admirable job of limiting interceptions this season.

Dalton has faced the Vikings just once in his career and it’s the game that almost certainly got Leslie Frazier fired. Dalton’s statline read: 27/38 for 363 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions, 9.55 yards per attempt, 11.66 adjusted yards per attempt and took only two sacks in the process. So I’m guessing this year’s game will be slightly different (or at least Vikings fans should hope that it is, anyway).

Dalton’s average play even reaches his home and away splits. Though his record is far better at home (33-19-2 at home, 28-24 on the road), his other numbers are almost identical to each other. Completion percentage is almost identical, yards are just a few hundred off of each other, you name it, it’s fairly similar. So the Vikings won’t be getting much of a boost from Dalton being on the road over being at home.

Offensive Efficiency

PFR Efficiency: Cinncinnati Bengals

Organization Offensive scoring % (Rank) Average starting field position (Rank) Average time of drive (Rank) Avg. # of plays per drive (Rank) Avg. # of yards per drive (Rank) Avg. points per drive (Rank)
Organization Offensive scoring % (Rank) Average starting field position (Rank) Average time of drive (Rank) Avg. # of plays per drive (Rank) Avg. # of yards per drive (Rank) Avg. points per drive (Rank)
Pro Football Reference 26.2 (27) Own 28.4 (15) 2:25 (32) 5.08 (32) 24.8 (29) 1.48 (25)

Football Outsiders Efficiency: Cincinnati Bengals

Organization Yards per drive (Rank) Points per drive (Rank) Avg. starting field position (Rank) Plays per drive (Rank) TOP per drive (Rank) Drive Success Rate (Rank) Touchdowns per drive (Rank) Field goals per drive (Rank) Punts per drive (Rank) 3&Outs per drive (Rank) Average field position after kickoff (Rank) Pts. per red zone drive (Rank) TDs per red zone drive (Rank) Avg. lead at the beginning of drives (Rank)
Organization Yards per drive (Rank) Points per drive (Rank) Avg. starting field position (Rank) Plays per drive (Rank) TOP per drive (Rank) Drive Success Rate (Rank) Touchdowns per drive (Rank) Field goals per drive (Rank) Punts per drive (Rank) 3&Outs per drive (Rank) Average field position after kickoff (Rank) Pts. per red zone drive (Rank) TDs per red zone drive (Rank) Avg. lead at the beginning of drives (Rank)
Football Outsiders 25.87 (30) 1.54 (24) 28.02 (18) 5.24 (32) 2:30 (31) .647 (25) .180 (23) .094 (30) .489 (29) .245 (15) 23.56 (32) 4.71 (20) .559 (17) -.90 (15)

Their offense is mediocre to terrible in basically every aspect. About the only things they even manage to be average at are how often they go three-and-out, how often they score touchdowns in the red zone, their average lead at the beginning of their offensive drives, and their starting field position. They are the worst in: field position after kickoffs and plays per drive, second-worst in time of possession, and bottom-five in a host of other things.

This is not an offense that extends drives very long, so if the Vikings can force a third down, there’s a good chance they’ll get off the field. The Bengals are currently converting just 34.4% of their third downs, which is 28th in the league, so the Vikings should easily be able to work on that with their top-ranked third-down defense.

Cincinnati has the 21st-ranked offense by DVOA (-5.6%), the 22nd-best passing offense (-.1%), and the 17th run offense (-7.4%), so the Vikings, comparatively, should be able to have some success against the Bengals.

Defense

Cincinnati’s run defense

Year Attempts against (Rank) Rushing yards against (Rank) Rushing touchdowns against (Rank) Yards per attempt (Rank) Rush defense DVOA (Rank) Adjusted line yards allowed (Rank) Power success against (Rank) Stuffed (Rank) 2nd Level Yards (Rank) Open Field Yards (Rank)
Year Attempts against (Rank) Rushing yards against (Rank) Rushing touchdowns against (Rank) Yards per attempt (Rank) Rush defense DVOA (Rank) Adjusted line yards allowed (Rank) Power success against (Rank) Stuffed (Rank) 2nd Level Yards (Rank) Open Field Yards (Rank)
2017 407 (31) 1717 (32) 10 (19) 4.2 (19) -6.8% (18) 4.56 (29) 65% (16) 19% (25) 1.25 (23) .48 (3)

So yeah, teams have loved to run against the Bengals so far this season, as they have the second-most rush attempts against this year and have surrendered the most rushing yards in the NFL as a result. They are allowing lots of open holes to running backs, don’t stop the run in short-yardage situations particularly well, and allow running backs basically free access to their linebackers. About the only thing the Bengals do well against the run is to stop long runs from happening; they have allowed just seven runs of 20 yards or more this season.

If Minnesota plays its cards right, it should be able to get one or both of Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray going on Sunday. The Bengals have allowed nine of their 13 opponents to break 100 yards rushing and have allowed six of those to rush for more than 150 yards. In two of their last three games, the Bengals have allowed their opponents to rush for more than 160 yards (the Browns got 169, the Bears got 232) and in the game they did not allow their opponent to get 160 yards, they held the Steelers to just 92 yards.

So yeah, this is a run defense the Vikings should be able to attack and attack with ferocity and chew as much clock as they darn well please.

Pass defense: Bengals

Team Completions/Attempts (Comp. %) Passing yards against (Rank) Passing touchdowns against (Rank) Net yards per attempt against (Rank) Pass Defense DVOA (Rank) Adjusted sack rate (Rank)
Team Completions/Attempts (Comp. %) Passing yards against (Rank) Passing touchdowns against (Rank) Net yards per attempt against (Rank) Pass Defense DVOA (Rank) Adjusted sack rate (Rank)
Bengals 272/454 (~60%) 2774 (8) 15 (6) 5.7 (6) 14.6% (19) 6.6% (t-17)

One of the few things the Bengals have been good at this season is defending the pass. They are allowing on average just 60% of opponent’s passes to be completed, have allowed the eighth-fewest passing yards, allow the sixth-lowest net yards per attempt against and have allowed the sixth-fewest passing touchdowns in the NFL. Their DVOA isn’t anything to write home about and they aren’t featuring a particularly good pass rush either. So let’s see if the Vikings can handle their pass defense better than they did Carolina’s.

The Bengals have yet to allow an opposing quarterback for more than 290 yards this season. In fact, they have four games this season where they have allowed fewer than 175 yards passing, all coming within the first five weeks of the season (Browns, Bills, Ravens and Texans). So it should be interesting to see how Keenum performs against a defense that isn’t quite as good as the Panthers, but has still managed to limit opposing quarterbacks.

Cincinnati Bengals defenders

Player Solo tackles Assisted tackles Sacks Passes defensed
Player Solo tackles Assisted tackles Sacks Passes defensed
Darqueze Dennard 50 20 2 5
Vontaze Burfict 47 19 2 2
George Iloka 45 22 0 4
Nick Vigil 43 34 1 5
Dre Kirkpatrick 42 7 1 9
Geno Atkins 25 15 7 0
Carl Lawson 8 3 7 0
Carlos Dunlap 30 9 5.5 5
Michael Johnson 29 10 5 1
William Jackson 14 4 1 9

The Bengals have talent on their defense. Unfortunately, their defense is also one of the dirtier units in the NFL (as seen in past games against the Steelers/the fact they employ Burfict), so that talent is often lost in the noise. Injuries are also taking their toll on the Bengals. Top corner Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones is currently on IR with a groin injury, Nick Vigil is dealing with an ankle issue, Burfict and Kirkpatrick are both dealing with concussions they suffered against the Steelers, Shawn Williams is dealing with a hamstring issue that has cost him three games, Dennard has a knee issue, Pat Sims was limited with a heel problem in Wednesday’s practice and Carlos Dunlap left the Bears game with a chest injury.

There are currently seven Bengals defensive players on their injury report and their health will likely play a big role as to how well the Vikings do against their defense. If all the players that did not practice Wednesday don’t play on Sunday, the Bengals will be down three of their top four corners, their starting strong safety, and both of their starting outside linebackers.

Health problems aside, Geno Atkins and Carl Lawson are both having big years for the Bengals and keeping them contained will be key in Minnesota’s hopes of moving the ball both through the air and on the ground.

PFR Defensive Efficiency: Cincinnati Bengals

Organization Scoring % (Rank) Avg. defensive starting field position (Rank) Avg. drive time allowed (Rank) Plays allowed per drive (Rank) Yards allowed per drive (Rank) Avg. points per drive (Rank)
Organization Scoring % (Rank) Avg. defensive starting field position (Rank) Avg. drive time allowed (Rank) Plays allowed per drive (Rank) Yards allowed per drive (Rank) Avg. points per drive (Rank)
Pro Football Reference 37.9% (28) Own 27.9 (13) 2:59 (30) 6.4 (31) 30.9 (23) 1.83 (14)

Football Outsiders Defensive Efficiency: Cincinnati Bengals

Organization Yards per drive allowed (Rank) Points per drive allowed (Rank) LOS per drive (Rank) Plays allowed per drive (Rank) Time of possession allowed per drive (Rank) Drive Success Rate against (Rank) Touchdowns allowed per drive (Rank) Field goals allowed per drive (Rank) Punts per drive (Rank) 3&Outs forced per drive Defensive LOS after kickoff (Rank) Points allowed per red zone trip (Rank) Touchdowns allowed per red zone trip (Rank)
Organization Yards per drive allowed (Rank) Points per drive allowed (Rank) LOS per drive (Rank) Plays allowed per drive (Rank) Time of possession allowed per drive (Rank) Drive Success Rate against (Rank) Touchdowns allowed per drive (Rank) Field goals allowed per drive (Rank) Punts per drive (Rank) 3&Outs forced per drive Defensive LOS after kickoff (Rank) Points allowed per red zone trip (Rank) Touchdowns allowed per red zone trip (Rank)
Football Outsiders 31.71 (22) 1.83 (14) 27.92 (16) 6.42 (31) 2:59 (28) .695 (20) .172 (6) .207 (31) .434 (14) .241 (18) 23.5 (3) 4.39 (7) .413 (3)

So the big thing that Vikings fans should take away from these efficiency charts is that they, like most of the other charts in this article, show a mediocre team. That said, there is one thing that, in conjunction with the Bengals having a pretty good pass defense, Vikings fans should know about the Bengals defense. They are one of the best in the NFL at preventing red zone touchdowns. Actually, they are even better than the Vikings at keeping their opponents from scoring six. So while the Bengals are just 26th in third-down defense (42.1% of third downs are converted against them), they are third-best in the NFL at preventing red zone touchdowns (41.3%).

That does boost up the number of field goals they allow, so all my fantasy football brethren should be just fine with firing up Kai Forbath as a kicking option this weekend with the hope that Shurmur calls a better game in the red zone than he did last week.

Turnovers

Like I will say at the beginning of this section in every analysis, turnovers are usually what separate the average teams from the elite teams. The average teams have games where they lose the turnover battle and games where they win it. Elite teams are almost always winning the turnover battle, even if they turn the ball over once or twice themselves. The Bengals are a -8 this season in the turnover margin, so let’s take a look at how that all plays out.

Turnovers: Cincinnati Bengals

Side of ball Interceptions (Rank) Fumbles (Rank) Give/take (PFR) Turnover % (Rank) (FO) Turnovers per drive Interceptions per drive (Rank) Fumbles per drive (Rank)
Side of ball Interceptions (Rank) Fumbles (Rank) Give/take (PFR) Turnover % (Rank) (FO) Turnovers per drive Interceptions per drive (Rank) Fumbles per drive (Rank)
Offense 9 (t-9) 10 (26) 19 giveaways 11.7% (20) .122 (22) .065 (13) .058 (28)
Defense 8 (t-24) 3 (32) 11 takeaways 7.6% (30) .076 (30) .055 (24) .021 (31)

Turnovers have not been in Cincy’s favor so far this season. They have just 11 takeaways, fewer than one per game, while coughing up 19 takeaways, about 1.5 per game. The Bengals have turned the ball over in all but four games this season; they are 2-2 in turnover-free games and 3-6 in games where they have turned the ball over one or more times. As for Cincy’s defense, they have turned over their opponents in nine of their thirteen games so far; they are 4-5 when they force a turnover and 1-3 when they do not.

As long as the Vikings play a cleaner game in this area than they did last week, they should be walking out of U.S. Bank Stadium with a division title in hand on Sunday.

Special Teams

Much like the Panthers, an injury has altered what the Bengals have been doing in their return game.

Cincinnati’s return men

Player Punt returns (Rank) Punt return yards (Rank) Fair catches (Rank) Punt return TDs (Rank) Yards per punt return (Rank) Kick returns (Rank) Kick return yards (Rank) Kick return TDs (Rank) Yards per kick return (Rank)
Player Punt returns (Rank) Punt return yards (Rank) Fair catches (Rank) Punt return TDs (Rank) Yards per punt return (Rank) Kick returns (Rank) Kick return yards (Rank) Kick return TDs (Rank) Yards per kick return (Rank)
Alex Erickson 32 (1) 238 (6) 12 (14) 0 (t-9) 7.4 (t-18) 27 (t-3) 575 (5) 0 (t-4) 21.3 (t-45)
Adam Jones 6 (t-42) 131 (26) 0 (t-71) 0 (t-9) 21.8 (1) 0 0 0 0
Gio Bernard 0 0 0 0 0 1 (t-90) 7 (t-123) 0 (t-4) 7 (t-123)

It’s pretty simple in this one. With Adam Jones on the shelf, Alex Erickson has established himself as the kick and punt returner for the Bengals and is doing a top-notch job at both. Erickson is just another great returner the Vikings have to face this season, so look for Quigley to be trying to force a lot of fair catches. If they don’t get fair catches, they should bring down Erickson fairly quickly as long as the punts are in the right spot. Anyway, this is an aggressive return team the Bengals have, so the Vikings will absolutely have to have their eyes open in the return game.

Kicking

Player 0-19 FGA/FGM 20-29 FGA/FGM 30-39 FGA/FGM 40-49 FGA/FGM 50+ FGA/FGM PAT's made
Player 0-19 FGA/FGM 20-29 FGA/FGM 30-39 FGA/FGM 40-49 FGA/FGM 50+ FGA/FGM PAT's made
Randy Bullock 0 4/4 5/6 4/5 0 24/26

Bullock is Cincinnati’s kicker this season and is having an okay season. His 86.7% field goal accuracy is actually about five and a half points above his career average, so that’s a definite improvement for Bullock. He’s almost entirely limited to short-range kicking, as he hasn’t been asked to attempt a kick of longer than 50 yards since 2015 and he hasn’t made a kick over 50 yards since he made a 53-yarder in Week 15 of 2014. So yeah, the Vikings will definitely have some room to work with on defense. Bullock has missed both PAT’s and regular field goals this season so it’ll be interesting to see how he will do against the Vikings.

Punting

Player Punts (Rank) Punt yards (Rank) Longest punt (Rank) Average punt (Rank) Net punt length (Rank) Blocked punts (Rank) Punts inside the 20 (Rank) Touchbacks (Rank) Fair catches (Rank) Punts returned (Rank) Punt return yardage (Rank) Punt return avg. yards
Player Punts (Rank) Punt yards (Rank) Longest punt (Rank) Average punt (Rank) Net punt length (Rank) Blocked punts (Rank) Punts inside the 20 (Rank) Touchbacks (Rank) Fair catches (Rank) Punts returned (Rank) Punt return yardage (Rank) Punt return avg. yards
Kevin Huber 68 (10) 3242 (7) 63 (t-14) 47.7 (8) 41.4 (t-13) 1 (t-2) 29 (t-2) 3 (t-17) 16 (15) 32 (t-9) 327 (8) 10.2 (8)

Much like most other good punters, Kevin Huber just goes quietly about his day despite being a top-10 punter. What the Bengals do apparently tend to do is give up return yardage, so the Vikings should absolutely be able to take Marcus Sherels off the leash and keep some of the members of the game thread from getting too antsy about how often he’s calling fair catches.

Penalties

Cincinnati penalties, pt. 1

Team Penalties For (Rank) Penalty Yardage For (Rank) Penalties Called Against (Rank) Penalty Yardage Against (Rank) Net Penalty Count (Rank) Net penalty yards (Rank) Pre-snap count (Rank) Declined (Rank) Offsetting (Rank) Total flags (Rank)
Team Penalties For (Rank) Penalty Yardage For (Rank) Penalties Called Against (Rank) Penalty Yardage Against (Rank) Net Penalty Count (Rank) Net penalty yards (Rank) Pre-snap count (Rank) Declined (Rank) Offsetting (Rank) Total flags (Rank)
Bengals 81 (25) 692 (25) 94 (t-7) 864 (5) -13 (28) -172 (4) 25 (t-9) 11 (t-8) 1 (t-30) 106 (22)

Bengal penalties, pt. 2

Year Delay of game (Rank) False start (Rank) Offensive holding (Rank) Offensive pass interference (Rank) Offsides (Rank) Defensive holding (Rank) Illegal contact (Rank) Defensive pass interference (Rank) Roughing the Passer (Rank) Unnecessary roughness (Rank) Other (Rank)
Year Delay of game (Rank) False start (Rank) Offensive holding (Rank) Offensive pass interference (Rank) Offsides (Rank) Defensive holding (Rank) Illegal contact (Rank) Defensive pass interference (Rank) Roughing the Passer (Rank) Unnecessary roughness (Rank) Other (Rank)
2017 0 (t-1) 9 (t-4) 10 (9) 0 (t-1) 5 (t-18) 11 (t-21) 1 (t-13) 15 (32) 4 (t-24) 6 (t-23) 33 (t-30)

This is a much less disciplined team than the one we lined up against last Sunday. That can only benefit us, especially with the talent our defensive ends are capable of showing. Cedric Ogbuehi will be limited in practice this week with a shoulder issue, so I will be interested to see just how much help the Bengals give Ogbuehi and right tackle Andre Smith.

As for the secondary of the Bengals, they, according to footballdb.com, have had a defensive pass interference penalty called against them at slightly more than once a week. So if the gameplan is working well, I’d bet we see the Bengals add to that particular number during the game.

Conclusion

I’m writing this after 3 a.m., so there might be a few mistakes, but honestly, I’m looking over this analysis and I’m seeing a Bengals team that’s about as vastly inferior to us as you can get while still being a mid-range team that has actually won games this season. Their wins haven’t been all that impressive and they have lost games against teams with even remotely good secondaries, so as long as Rhodes is up to the task of taking on A.J. Green, the Vikings should be able to make Cincy’s offense stall more than a car that’s sat outside in a Minnesota winter for a week.

Our run game is struggling? Let’s play the Bengals, the worst rushing team. We’re injured and have half the team on the injury report? Well, so do they. This should definitely be an interesting game, but I have to give this one to the Vikings in a bounce-back dominating effort over Mike Zimmer’s old crew.

Vikings 31, Bengals 9.