3 Things To Watch – New Orleans

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Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Chris Moore (10) is tackled by Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Jordan Evans (50) in the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)

This Sunday, the Bengals play their first post-bye week game of 2018 when they host the New Orleans Saints at Paul Brown Stadium.

Tickets may be purchased by calling the Bengals Ticket Hotline at (513) 621-8383, online (click to buy your tickets) or by visiting the Paul Brown Stadium ticket office. The Bengals Ticket Hotline and ticket office hours are on Saturday from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and on Sunday from 9 a.m. through the second quarter. Tickets may be purchased 24/7 through Bengals.com. Fans can call the Bengals Ticket Hotline or chat with a ticket representative online if they have any questions.

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Here are three things to watch as the Bengals play their final NFC South opponent of the season.

Inside Pressure – Saints quarterback Drew Brees is having one of the best seasons of his career thanks to a bevy of weapons and tremendous protection. The Purdue alum and future Hall of Famer has been sacked a league-low nine times and with that great pass protection the Saints have capitalized. Brees displays a league-best touchdown-to-interception ratio (18 touchdowns to one interception) in 279 pass attempts.

However, Brees isn't the only problem. New Orleans possesses one of the best running back duos in the league with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram paired with Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas.

To disrupt the Saints efficient offense, the Bengals will need to get consistent pressure on Brees and force miscues. The best chance to do so will be watching the play of the Bengals interior linemen – Geno Atkins, Andrew Billings, Josh Tupou and Adolphus Washington.

According to profootballfocus.com, the Saints tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk are two of the best in the league in pass block protection. If the Bengals ends can't fluster Brees and company, it adds more pressure to the line interior to find ways to disrupt the offense. Considering the Bengals are 4-0 this year when Atkins records a sack, controlling the line of scrimmage will be huge to help force turnovers and limit the Saints weapons.

Control The Clock – One of the best ways to help slow down a potent offense is by keeping them off the field. Case in point, when Tampa Bay defeated the Saints 48-40 on opening day, the Buccaneers held the ball for a little over 32 minutes. Since that game, only one team (Minnesota) has won the time of possession battle against the Saints.

Overall the Bengals have an average time of possession of 27:43, which is the second-worst mark in the league. There are encouraging signs however as the Bengals are 4-0 this year when control the ball for 28 minutes or more this season. Contrast that to the three losses where Cincinnati's average time of possession is 25:48.

Against the Saints defense, there are opportunities to have success in the run game. The Saints allowed 8.2 yards per play against the high-powered Los Angeles Rams. With running back Joe Mixon leading the charge and the return of center Billy Price, the Bengals will look to take advantage of the mismatches and boost the run game.

Unleash The Speed – Not only does this game feature two top 10 offenses, but the two worst passing defenses in the league. Whichever team gets the big plays of 20 or more yards will likely win this contest.

With that in mind, this is a prime spot for the Bengals speedsters to take advantage of mismatches within the Saints defense. There are plenty of options available too. John Ross (4.22 40-yard dash), Cody Core (4.47), Alex Erickson (4.52) and Jordan Franks (4.61) all have the ability stretch the field and create havoc in space.

Defending the pass has not been the Saints' strong suit this season, especially when it comes to teams with multiple options like the Bengals showcase. Look for the Bengals to target Saints defenders other than Marshon Lattimore to rack up yardage, similar to what the Ravens, Vikings and Rams have done in recent weeks.

The offensive firepower on display should be fun to watch. The Saints enter this week ranked No. 31 in pass defense, allowing 311.4 yards per game through the air, only better than the Bengals at 319.4.


Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.

Television: The game will air on FOX. In the Bengals' home region, it will be carried by WXIX-TV (Ch. 19) in Cincinnati, WGRT-TV (Ch. 45) in Dayton, WDKY-TV (Ch. 56) in Lexington, and WTTE-TV (Ch. 28) in Columbus. Broadcasters are Kevin Burkhardt (play-by-play), Charles Davis (analyst) and Pam Oliver (sideline reporter).

Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst). The game also will air nationally on Compass Media Networks. Broadcasters are Doug Gottlieb (play-by-play) and Brian Baldinger (analyst).