Packers fans love to complain about the defense in Green Bay. No, they are not the best unit in the league. But they also aren’t even close to the worst.
In fact, since the Packers’ first game against New Orleans, the defense has held up pretty well, all things considered. This is a true bend-but-don’t-break defense. After allowing 38 points in Week 1, the Green Bay defense has tightened up, allowing just over 20 points per game. On the season, this group is ranked 20th in the league in points scored. I know it’s not great, but given how the season started, I think we can all agree that’s a vast improvement.
The problem with the Packers’ defense now is the injuries. Za’Darius Smith is out indefinitely after back surgery, Chauncey Rivers tore his ACL in practice, Jaire Alexander will miss some time with a shoulder injury sustained last week, and Kevin King, whether you like him or not, is also still out with a concussion. That leaves the outside linebacker and cornerback positions very thin.
On the plus side, they added Jaylon Smith to the linebacker room. Sure, he hasn’t played up to what many thought he would be in the NFL, but let’s remember he suffered a horrific knee injury in college. Plus, he is still an upgrade over Ty Summers and Oren Burks. If Krys Barnes can come back this week to join De’Vondre Campbell, the top three linebackers on this defense make this a solid unit.
The defense is going to have to depend on the offense to get a lead, otherwise, Mixon could run all over the Packers, setting up some deadly play-action plays with Burrow and Chase. When the offense is ahead, the defense can pin their ears back and rush the quarterback without having to worry so much about the run.
When looking at the team stats, the Bengals look like solid defense. They are seventh in total yards allowed, right behind the Packers, are eighth in points allowed (18.75 ppg). They have just four takeaways this year, tied for 14th in the league.
They’ve also only allowed four touchdown passes through the air this year. Granted, they’ve played Kirk Cousins, Ben Roethlisberger, Trevor Lawrence, and Andy Dalton/Justin Fields this year. I think Aaron Rodgers is going to be a big test for the Cincinnati secondary.
Statistically, this Cincinnati defense has been very good this year. Paul Bretl of the Dairyland Express tweeted out where the Bengals rank in most of the major defensive categories.
This is a stout group that doesn’t give up a ton of yards or points and can also get to the quarterback. They are going to make things harder for Matt LaFleur and the Green Bay offense.
I want to pick the Packers. I really do. But I just don’t trust them, especially if Jaire Alexander is out. Without him, it’s Eric Stokes, Chandon Sullivan, and just some depth pieces.
If we are looking at the defenses head-to-head, I don’t think we can disagree that the Bengals have the better unit overall.