GREEN BAY—This is a game between two teams of opposing passing-game philosophies. The Packers like big chunks; the Bengals like their chunks in smaller portions.
The team that is able to impose the will of its passing game is likely to win at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday. Will the Packers throw the ball for big gains and move quickly down the field, or will the Bengals sustain drives with short pass completions that dominate time of possession and keep Aaron Rodgers on the bench?
That would seem to be the issue for Sunday's game between the 1-1 Packers and 1-1 Bengals. The winner will surge to 2-1 and a brighter outlook; the loser will fall back to 1-2 and regret for a slow start to the season.
Rodgers is averaging 10.29 yards per pass attempt, 14.8 yards per pass completion. Through the first two weeks of the season, the Packers are No. 2 in the league in net yards per pass play. Gotta love those big chunks, huh?
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is averaging 7.21 yards per pass attempt, 11.0 yards per pass completion. The Bengals are No. 13 in net yards per pass play, a ranking that's been aided by a couple of long plays, including a throw-short, run-long touchdown from Dalton to rookie running Giovani Bernard.
The Bengals' two-tight-ends, possession passing attack has allowed them to dominate time of possession by four minutes through two games. The Bengals have scored 40 points in 64 minutes of offense. The Packers' up-tempo, go-go attack has scored 51 points in less than 54 minutes of offense.
Defense, of course, will have much to say about each offense's ability to impose its style of play, but this game can be billed as Rodgers the bomber vs. Dalton the nibbler. Mike McCarthy likes lots of plays and points. Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis favors first downs and time of possession.
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Bengals.
1. Get a lead—That's how you take an opponent such as the Bengals out of their game plan and personality.
2. Block Michael Johnson—He's the Bengals' No. 1 pass rusher and he'll be the responsibility of rookie tackle David Bakhtiari.
3. Stop the run—Against time-of-possession teams, it always starts with winning first down, which forces favorable down and distance for the defense.
4. Run the ball—A strong running game is the most effective means for protecting a quarterback.
5. Make them play dime—The Bengals have injuries in their secondary. Test their depth.
6. Know what this means—It's the difference between taking 2-1 or 1-2 into the bye week and the first NFC North game of the season a week later. This is big.
7. Play a lot of people—The forecast is for a warm and sunny day. It can get hot on the artificial turf in Cincinnati.
8. Tighten the coverage—Soft zones and big cushions don't work against a possession passing attack.
9. Win special teams—Field position was the Packers' friend last week, certainly not in San Francisco.
10. Reward your fans—They'll be there. This could be a home game for the Packers. Additional coverage - Sept. 19