3TFO: Bengals @ Chiefs, Week 11
It appears to be the end of a rough stretch of games for the Cincinnati Bengals as they travel to Kansas City to play the Chiefs this week. The Bengals are coming off hard fought battles with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos and New York Giants, so they may be relieved to line up against the lowly Chiefs. Their 2012 season is inching toward survival mode and they need to go on a second half run if they hope to keep their playoff chances alive. Last week’s win against the Super Bowl champion Giants was a good start.
Despite the 1-8 record, Kansas City took the Steelers to the limit on Monday night as they enter the ‘what do you have for next year’ time of their season. The roster isn’t completely devoid of talent, so there will be some decisions that will have to be made over the last few weeks. For now, Chiefs fans will be watching closely to see if their team will be first at the podium come NFL Draft time — but with no catchy rhyme that denotes the consensus top prospect, it may not be the best year to challenge for the title of worst team in the league.
Let’s take a look at this week’s matchups.
Geno Atkins vs. Jeff Allen
Frequent readers of PFF are familiar with our praise of Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins, and Khaled Elsayed even went so far as to place him among the Top 10 players in the league to this point of the season. Atkins is the only defensive tackle to rank in the Top 10 in both Pass Rushing Productivity (first) and Run Stop Percentage (fifth). He is coming off a tremendous nine-pressure performance against the Giants last week.
Atkins will line up at both defensive tackle spots so he’ll see plenty of left guard Jeff Allen. The offensive line has been a bright spot in Kansas City’s down season, but Allen has been the clear weakness. A starter since Week 4, Allen is the only Chiefs starting offensive lineman grading in the red at -18.8. Only two guards in the league have graded worse overall, and Allen is right at the bottom with his -12.3 run blocking grade. Out of the top 76 qualifiers, Allen’s Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) of 94.0 ranks third worst. On the bright side, he’s put together back-to-back solid games, but his matchup with Atkins looks like one of the most lopsided in the league this week.
Rookie Battle in the Trenches
One of the players assured of a role in Kansas City’s rebuilding process is first-round rookie DT Dontari Poe. They’ve thrown him right into the mix this season as he’s played 69% of the team’s snaps and 234 of his 367 plays have come as the nose tackle in a three-man line. Despite his -5.0 overall grade, he’s shown amazing consistency, as he’s never graded above +1.0 or below -1.0 in any game. Poe’s provided little pass rush to this point and has notched a mere eight hurries in 195 attempts. Though he’s had his struggles in the running game at times, Poe’s 7.5% Run Stop Percentage ranks 15th in the league. Poe’s development will be one of the key storylines for Chiefs fans the second half of the season.
Center has been a hot topic for the Bengals this season after starter Kyle Cook was lost for the season and Jeff Faine has been among the league’s worst in his place. Undrafted rookie C Trevor Robinson has played 131 snaps at the position this season, including all 60 in a start last week. He played a solid game against the Giants, but his worst showing this season was a 25-snap relief outing against the Steelers in Week 7. He had his struggles (-2.5 for the game) with DT Casey Hampton and the Steelers’ 3-4 scheme. If Robinson shows well this week, it will bode well because the Bengals see a lot of 3-4 teams down the stretch.
A.J. Green vs. Brandon Flowers
One of the better wide receiver-cornerback matchups of the week will be between Bengals WR A.J. Green and Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers. Flowers lines up predominantly on the left side, so it’s unlikely that he’ll follow Green around the formation, but they’ll have plenty of battles. Green is our No. 4 WR at +16.4 and he’s eighth in Yards/Route Run (YPRR) at 2.39, as he continues to develop into one of the best wide receivers in the game.
Flowers comes into the game with a strong resume of his own. His +5.6 coverage rating ranks 13th at the position and his 0.82 Yards/Cover Snap ranks sixth. Keep an eye on the deep ball this week as Flowers has given up only two plays of 20+ yards, and Green’s 21 deep pass targets are the third most in the league.
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