Key Matchups: Bengals vs. Panthers

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KEY MATCHUPS
OCTOBER 22, 2006

A former NFL club football executive (The Guru) and a current NFL personnel director (The Chief) break down Sunday's matchup and after a low whistle following the Bengals injury list, The Guru gives the Bengals a slight edge only because they're home and The Chief picks the Panthers to win their fifth straight.

The Guru: The Bengals have to get home, steady the ship, and get back on track. To me, this is a coach's game. The Bengals have to adjust. That's how good coaches survive injuries. They're hurt at receiver and on the offensive line and they're playing a team that has a great pass rush, but you can run the ball on them. Getting Chris Perry back should be able to help them run and that's what they have to do. Carolina is a better rush team and they're at home.

The Chief: Carolina has to be laughing right now. If they don't have the best defensive line, it's one of the best and the Bengals keep shuffling up front. This is a heck of a game to have a rookie left tackle out there and to have receivers banged up. They're going to have to throw quick. Their secondary is pretty good, too. Their corners are big and physical and their safeties can really run. I think it's going to be a long day for the home team because of the injuries."

WHEN THE BENGALS HAVE THE BALL
* center>RT Willie Anderson and LT Andrew Whitworth vs. Panthers DEs Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker*

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Whitworth

But also figure that tight ends Reggie Kelly and Tony Stewart, and backs Jeremi Johnson, Rudi Johnson and Kenny Watson, have to have a big day giving some help.

"The thing the Bengals have to do is settle down with this offensive line," The Guru said. "They've got guys who have played those spots. You can run at a guy like Peppers, I think. You can run on them, or you have to try. This is the adjustment I'm talking about."

"Their corners are big and physical," The Chief said. "They might get beat at times, but their safeties run, and you know they can because they play seven in the box and they're still back there in a zone. If you had this defensive front, you would sit there with seven, too and not let anybody get behind you in the passing game. The Bengals are going to have to run the ball against seven men."

Meanwhile, in his 16th season, Kasay is still rolling. Last month he became the first kicker in history to kick four field goals from at least 46 yards in a game against Tampa Bay, and two weeks ago became the 25th player to score 1,000 points with the same team.

Smith is only 5-9, but James warns that "he's strong and physical." The Bengals figure to do what the offenses are doing to their own Chad Johnson and play it safe to keep the long one away. They also have to be wary of Carter's speed, but the Panthers don't often go with three wides. When they do, sometimes Smith goes in the slot, so Rock Hill, S.C., native Jospeh gets to take on Charlotte's big star.

The Bengals had the right idea in Tampa, where the longest completion they allowed was 18 yards. But that was to a rookie QB making his second NFL start. Which brings us to:

Delhomme is a different guy when pressured. He's also not above gambling and throwing it to the other club, but he's got a 2-to-1 TD-pick ratio and has thrown one fewer interception than Palmer (three) this season.

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