The Green Bay Packers perhaps can point the finger toward injury as the primary reason that their high-octane offense sputtered a bit en route to the team’s first loss of the season. The Cincinnati Bengals can point to a laundry list of reasons as to why their offense has yet to get untracked, with a coaching change perhaps serving as a wake-up call heading into Sunday’s contest against the host Packers.
Andy Dalton followed up his four-interception performance in a 20-0 season-opening setback to Baltimore with another dud in a 13-9 loss to Houston on Sept. 14, leaving the “Red Rifle” shooting himself in the foot with a league-worst 47.2 passer rating - two years after he led the AFC at 106.3. The 27th-ranked offense has produced three field goals on 25 possessions, presumably forcing Cincinnati’s hand as it replaced offensive coordinator Ken Zampese with quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor. While there’s gloom and doom simmering in the Queen City, Green Bay dealt with the dark cloud of injury last week in its 34-23 loss to Atlanta. Aaron Rodgers rolled up 343 yards and two touchdowns while playing in catch-up mode versus the Falcons, but did so without Jordy Nelson (quad) through much of the contest and fellow wideout Randall Cobb (shoulder) as well.
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Packers -8.5. O/U: 44.5
ABOUT THE BENGALS (0-2): Perhaps the writing was on the wall for Zampese shortly after mild-mannered wideout A.J. Green sounded off that he was not part of the action in Cincinnati’s comeback bid against Houston, saying, “I don’t control the play calling. I just go out there and run the play.” Green has recorded back-to-back five-receptions performances to begin the season and faces a Green Bay secondary that has allowed 203.8 yards per game to wideouts since Week 10 in 2016. Tight end Tyler Eifert, who has been limited to just four catches for 46 yards this season, is uncertain to play after sitting out practice on both Wednesday and Thursday with knee and back injuries. The Bengals’ ground game has yet to get untracked, with the three-pronged attack of Giovani Bernard (50 yards), rookie Joe Mixon (45 yards) and Jeremy Hill (43 yards) being limited to 3.4 yards per rush.
ABOUT THE PACKERS (1-1): Nelson told reporters that “everything is headed in the right direction” for his return after an ailing quad forced his early exit last week. Offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga has joined Nelson on the practice field in each of the last two days as he works his way back from an ankle sprain that has sidelined him since Aug. 23. The availability for Cobb and offensive tackle David Bakhtiari (hamstring) remains in question, however, as the two joined linebacker Jake Ryan (concussion) and defensive tackle Mike Daniels (hip) in not practicing on Thursday. Daniels’ injury forced Green Bay to bring back veteran defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois.
1. Green Bay’s Ty Montgomery recorded two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) and 110 scrimmage yards last week while leading all NFL running backs in offensive snaps through the first two weeks of the season.
2. Cincinnati DT Geno Atkins has three sacks already this season and has at least a half-sack in each of his last six games.
3. Packers LB Nick Perry is scheduled to undergo surgery on his hand for the second straight year, although coach Mike McCarthy did not reveal how long he will be sidelined.
PREDICTION: Packers 27, Bengals 14