PFF Preview: Bengals @ Saints, Week 11
Leading the lackluster NFC South, the New Orleans Saints continue a three-game home stretch by hosting a Cincinnati Bengals team coming off a worrying offensive performance. The Bengals have had a few extra days to recover from their 21-point loss to the Browns on Thursday Night Football, but Andy Dalton will have to pick it up, as three points won’t cut it against the Saints’ offense in the Superdome.
What just might cut it, though, would be a resurgence of a pass rush that’s been conspicuously absent in 2014. Michael Johnson left for greener (monetarily speaking) pastures, but only Carlos Dunlap has more than two sacks on the year, and among the defensive line only Geno Atkins has a positive pass rushing grade. The coverage has held up reasonably well on the year, but it’s fair to say that the thought of Drew Brees in a clean pocket all afternoon will give Cincinnati’s defensive backs nightmares.
With the Falcons in hot pursuit, the Saints can ill afford to drop another game below .500, while the Bengals need to rebound quickly to keep pace in the ultra-competitive AFC North. Here are some key players that will help decide this inter-conference matchup.
Andrew Whitworth – The one constant on this offense, Whitworth has allowed just six total pressures (one hit, five hurries) on 335 pass blocking snaps this year.
Mohamed Sanu – Carrying much of the load since A.J. Green went down with a toe injury, Sanu has an impressive 6.8 yards after the catch per reception, though the third-year player has struggled with drops and now leads the league with nine dropped passes.
Terence Newman – A quiet success story since leaving Dallas, Newman has allowed an average of less than 2 yards after the catch on the 36 receptions he’s allowed. There are 90 cornerbacks who’ve allowed more YAC than Newman.
New Orleans Saints
Junior Galette – Tasked with beating Whitworth, Galette will look to add to his six sacks and 40 total pressures. His 12.1 Pass Rushing Productivity figure this season is the best of his career.
Jimmy Graham – Graham has caught 82% of passes thrown to him between the numbers. His overall catch rate of 78% is sixth among tight ends with 20 or more targets.
Mark Ingram – While Ingram has played less than one-third of the snaps the Saints have given to halfbacks, he has over half of the rushing attempts and yardage earned by their stable of backs.
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