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Week 3: Packers-Bengals matchup analysis

The SportsXchange

Green Bay Packers (1-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati - TV: FOX

*TV announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver

*Keys to the game: The Packers showed a rare commitment to the running game last week and it paid dividends with RB James Starks going over 120 yards and QB Aaron Rodgers passing for more than 450. Balance is critical to slowing the Cincinnati Bengals' pass rush. If Cincinnati's cornerbacks are healthy, the hole in the Bengals' deep, veteran-laden pass coverage is at linebacker and Rodgers has a solid outlet in TE Jermichael Finley to work the middle of the field against a predominantly press-man scheme. Green Bay blitzed QB Andy Dalton liberally in preseason and Dalton was 5 of 17 in three quarters. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers unleashes myriad pressure packages, and the goal is to move Dalton's launch point before he syncs up with WR A.J. Green. The Bengals unleashed a potential blitz-buster last week in rookie Giovani Bernard, and elusive, make-you-miss back, and can also counter with a two-tight end set to hold the linebackers in coverage. TE Jermaine Gresham has 11 receptions in the first two games.

*Matchup to watch - Packers OTs David Bakhtiari and Don Barclay vs. Bengals pass rush: The extra attention drawn by Cincinnati's talented defensive tackles frees up pass rushers Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson on the outside. Green Bay has been susceptible to pocket pressure on Rodgers funneled through the middle, especially with standout LG Josh Sitton bothered by back trouble and C Evan Dietrich-Smith inconsistent in the early going.

*Player spotlight - Packers RB Johnathan Franklin: He's expected to have a role on offense for the first time this season with fellow rookie Eddie Lacy (concussion) possibly unavailable. Franklin has superior receiving skills to FB John Kuhn and Starks and could have a key part in the four-minute and hurry-up offenses.

*Fast facts: Rodgers has 28 touchdowns, three interceptions in his past 10 starts against AFC teams. ... The Packers lead the NFL with 453 yards after the catch. ... Dalton has only three interceptions in his past 223 pass attempts at home.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

If the Bengals avoid turnovers and can keep the Packers' receivers in front of them, Cincinnati can be in position to win in the fourth quarter. It's on Andy Dalton to deliver the goods.

*Our pick: Bengals 27-24
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