Bengals seek Jag-ged edge

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VS.

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KEY MATCHUPS
NOVEMBER 2, 2008

The last time the Bengals beat the Jaguars, heck actually froze over.

In the coldest Paul Brown Stadium game ever back on Dec. 17, 2000, Peter Warrick negotiated an 82-yard Bobby Orr punt return in nine-degree weather spiced by a 20-degree wind chill. The oddsmakers doubt heck is going to need antifreeze again and the Bengals.com roundtable doesn't quibble with the Jags installed as a touchdown favorite.

"It's hard on the Bengals because they just haven't been able to score," says The Guru, a former top football exec in the NFL. "At some point you have to be able to make plays, move the ball, and keep your defense off the field."

The Eye, an NFL scout that evaluates talent in both conferences, thinks the Bengals can throw against a banged-up secondary and a front seven that is diminished by the loss of defensive tackle Marcus Stroud. Note that the Browns' winning drive last week started with four Jamal Lewis runs for 26 yards against an eight-man front.

But the Bengals are averaging just 78 yards per game on the ground, so there is little doubt that Jags head coach Jack Del Rio's conservative defensive philosophy is going to be geared to prevent the big-play Bengals wide receivers from breaking out until the Bengals prove they can raise their average of 3.4 yards per rush by at least a yard.

This, then, is a battle of 7-Up with the Front Sevens to decide it.

WHEN THE BENGALS HAVE THE BALL
Bengals RB Cedric Benson vs. Jaguars MLB Mike Peterson

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Benson

"Depending on what technique the line is playing, (Ghiaciuc) is going to come off the double-teams, peel off and get to the Mike backer," says The Eye of a player who has been criticized for his lack of strength against 3-4s. "Ghiaciuc is very good at that because he's an athletic guy that can get there in a hurry."

Which is why some believe the lack of pressure allows the Bengals to throw it on them.

Houshmandzadeh could have a field day because the Jags defense is having the same kind of problems that Cincinnati is. The Bengals are dead last in the league getting off the field on third down because they are next to last in generating sacks per pass. Meanwhile, Jacksonville is 30th in getting off the field, which could set up Houshmandzadeh, and the Bengals may finally have time to get it down the field because the Jags have the fourth fewest sacks per pass in the league.

"He's almost as good a runner as Maurice Jones-Drew," Odom says of the Jags speed back. "They don't need to max protect because they've got a quarterback that can move out of the pocket. He'll pump the ball on you and then he'll pull it down on you and go. And he's got good speed."

"Fred can still run, but he's going mainly up the middle," The Eye says. "Jones-Drew looks to bounce everything outside and he can."

"The Titans were very effective doing that to him," The Eye says. "He's short. He has trouble seeing down the field if the pocket closes in on him. He does his best against the defensive ends that rush up the field because then he can step up in the pocket."

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