On the other side of the ball, the Bengals have provided another surprise -- a solid and consistent rushing attack behind a resurgent offensive line. Cincinnati loves to power block for the back du jour, and three different backs (Cedric Benson(notes), Larry Johnson(notes), and Bernard Scott(notes)) have rushed for over 100 yards in a game behind that line. They have adopted the Baltimore Ravens' use of unbalanced and stacked lines, frequently using tackle Dennis Roland(notes) as an extra edge-blocker/sub tight end. But even without linebacker E.J. Henderson(notes), the Vikings' run defense is as stout as it's been over the last few years. It's consistently among the best in the game.
That's what to watch when the Bengals take the field at Minnesota. Who will be able to break through defensive bottlenecks? The Vikings also have excellent power-blocking with guard Steve Hutchinson(notes) and mammoth tackles Bryant McKinnie(notes) and Phil Loadholt(notes). Tight end Jim Kleinsasser(notes) operates as an extra blocker with great effectiveness, so it could be said that each defense will see an offense they're not unfamiliar with -- something like what they see in scrimmage. The Bengals don't have anybody with Peterson's downfield skill, and the Vikings lack Cincinnati's per-play consistency, but the attack at the line of scrimmage will be very similar; let's see who can stop who with pure brute force.