Game Scout: Bengals at Packers

We have everything you need to know about Sunday's Week 2 clash, from keys to the game to injury reports to scouting reports from the locker room.

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The vitals

Who: Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) at Green Bay Packers (1-0).

Kickoff: Sunday, noon.

TV: CBS (Ian Eagle, Rich Gannon).

Series: 11th regular-season meeting. Series is tied 5-5. The interconference opponents are playing for the first time since 2005, a 21-14 Bengals victory in Cincinnati. The Packers are 4-0 in games played at Green Bay, with the most recent matchup a 24-10 outcome in 1995. The Bengals' only wins in Wisconsin came in two games played at Milwaukee, in 1977 and '86.

Keys to the game

The Bengals showed an improved pass rush against Denver, which has to concern Green Bay after QB Aaron Rodgers had Bears defenders in his face all night last Sunday. Offensively, the Bengals need to stick with the run for four quarters as long as the game is tight. The Packers have also improved their pass rush and the Bengals want to limit three-and-outs. When QB Carson Palmer does drop back look for him to attack over the top against SS Aaron Rouse, who isn't as strong in coverage as injured starter Atari Bigby.

Fast facts

The Bengals are 0-4 all-time at Lambeau Field. ... While the Packers are the youngest team in the league, Cincinnati's average experience of 3.77 years for its roster to open the season was the lowest in the NFL. ... Rodgers has a 103.5 passer rating with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions in nine career home starts. ... Since last year, opponents are just 1-for-10 in instant-replay challenges. ... The Packers rank 28th in the NFL offensively (22nd rush, 27th pass) and 22nd defensively (T-15th rush, 23rd pass). The Bengals rank 16th on offense (T-15th rush, 16th pass) and 16th on defense (10th rush, 18th pass).

Injury report

Packers — Out — Safety Atari Bigby (knee); running back Brandon Jackson (ankle). Questionable — Guard Daryn Colledge; defensive lineman B.J. Raji (ankle). Probable — Cornerback Will Blackmon (thigh); kicker Mason Crosby (abdominal); receiver Greg Jennings (wrist).

Bengals — Out — cornerback David Jones (foot); guard Nate Livings (knee); tackle Andre Smith (foot). Probable — tackle Scott Kooistra (knee); halfback Brian Leonard (chest); quarterback Jordan Palmer (illness).

Inactive lists

The one surprise is that Packers first-round pick B.J. Raji is inactive again. The others for Green Bay are safety Atari Bigby, running back Brandon Jackson, cornerback Brandon Underwood, fullback Quinn Johnson, linebacker Brad Jones, lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith and tackle Breno Giacomini.

Bengals - Jordan Palmer (third quarterback), cornerback David Jones, safety Tom Nelson, guard Nate Livings, tackle Andre Smith, tight end Chase Coffman, receiver Jerome Simpson and defensive end Frostee Rucker.

Game plan

James Jones vs. the Bengals in the 2008 preseason.
Scott Boehm/Getty Images
An anticipated air shootout never came to pass in the Packers' season opener against the Chicago Bears, thanks to numerous mistakes by the offenses on both sides. This matchup with the Bengals has all of the makings of being decided through the air. Like what happened Sunday night, though, so much will depend on whether both the Packers unit directed by Aaron Rodgers and the Carson Palmer-led Bengals cast continue to stay in a funk when plays need to be made. A shaky Bengals secondary gives Green Bay a better chance of getting its explosive act together on the heels of Rodgers' 50-yard touchdown strike to Greg Jennings for the late game-winner against the Bears. Palmer, on the other hand, must contend with a jazzed-up Packers defense that mostly flourished its first official time out in the 3-4 scheme, picking off four Jay Cutler passes. A deeper Bengals receiving corps, led by Chad Ochocinco and newcomer Laveranues Coles, will test a short-handed Packers secondary (safety Atari Bigby is out with a knee injury) more than the Bears did. Since mercurial running back Cedric Benson can't be counted on to be much of a factor, the Packers will look for the Bengals to spread things out with multiple receivers, which will mean a second straight game with a heavy dose of the nickel package. Since Palmer and Co. are accustomed to playing 3-4 defenses, the Packers have to be assignment sure with their blitzes and time them right.

Scouting reports

Right guard Josh Sitton on the Bengals' defensive line: Their whole front's good. Their two inside guys are somewhat different players. Tank's (Tank Johnson) real explosive. (Domata) Peko reads a little more and makes plays down the line of scrimmage. He's real fast side to side. It will be a challenge for us. Their whole defensive front is pretty good. They're physical and they're fast.

Left guard Daryn Colledge on Bengals rookie linebacker Rey Maualuga: He looks great. He looks awesome. He's extremely physical, he blows everybody up and he plays left to right extremely fast. I think he's going to be an extremely talented player. I don't want to say that we know anything about him that nobody else knows about him, but we're going to grind a lot of tape on him. Right now, he looks like a real stud.

Right outside linebacker Brady Poppinga on Bengals halfback Cedric Benson: I think he looks a little more quick and explosive (than he did in Chicago). i don't know what that's due to. Maybe it's just the fact that he's grown into that running back position, but I think he's got a little more oomph behind his step nowadays — although he was still a load to bring down in Chicago. I do think he's grown as a player.

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers on Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer: He's extremely skilled. He's your classic quarterback that can make every throw very accurate. He's probably a little more of a pocket guy than last week. Cutler took the ball outside a lot. Now, they've done some designed things to get him away from inside pressure, but he's got very good receivers and he can make all the throws you want to make. He's been to I-don't-know-how-many Pro Bowls (two), but he's that type of quarterback.

Receiver James Jones on Bengals cornerbacks Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph: They're kind of the same player. Both of them play physical. They're good players. Both of them are first-round draft picks. Technique-wise, they've got good feet, good hips. It should be a good challenge for us.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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