Game Scout: Bengals-Lions

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) at Detroit Lions (4-2)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Ford Field, Detroit - TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Marv Albert, Rich Gannon
*Keys to the game: Detroit is finding its offense becomes disjointed when it is not complete, and a half-speed Calvin Johnson doesn't cut it. How they fare against Cincinnati's matchup defense will depend on the status of Johnson. The Bengals will gauge his health and then bring their extra defender into the box to take away running back Reggie Bush. The Browns played the Lions mostly with man coverage because Johnson wasn't blowing by defenders as per usual, and the Bengals are equipped to mimic that. They can get to QB Matt Stafford with just their front four consistently. The Lions have not tackled well, and that's a weakness Cincinnati will exploit. The Bengals are on pace to have six players with at least 500 receiving yards, led by WR A.J. Green. QB Andy Dalton has two quality tight ends and a big-play running back in rookie Giovani Bernard who demand attention when he goes away from Green.
*Matchup to watch - Lions CB Chris Houston vs. Bengals WR A.J. Green -- Houston has lined up on the left side and taken whoever comes to his side, but for multiple reasons -- Houston's improved health, Green's productivity and RCB Rashean Mathis (groin) being less than full strength -- Houston will draw Green this week.
*Player spotlight - Lions TE Joseph Fauria: Five of his seven catches this season are touchdowns. The undrafted rookie caught three TDs last week and is second on the team in red-zone targets.
*Fast facts: The Lions' defense has 10 interceptions after totaling 11 in 2012 and are plus-five in turnover ratio. ... The Bengals haven't allowed a 300-yard passer in the past 20 games.
The Bengals are a tough cat to skin given their ability to win in multiple ways -- at a grinding pace, with dominant defense and now with a more explosive passing game. Detroit's defense isn't there yet, and until Calvin Johnson returns to his all-world form, the Lions won't win a shootout.
*Our pick: Bengals 28-23

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