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Film Study

Film Study: Giants vs. Bengals Scouting Report

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The Giants come off the bye to visit the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are 2-7-1 (with a tie coming against the Eagles) and their minus-57 point differential is the sixth-worst in the league. They have a minus-4 turnover ratio, which is tied for 24th in the NFL. All advanced stats are courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

When the Bengals have the ball…

* The Bengals lost their star rookie quarterback Joe Burrow for the season with a knee injury last week, and turned to Ryan Finley. It was reported on Wednesday that they will start Brandon Allen against the Giants on Sunday. Allen played in three games last season for the Broncos. In his career, he has completed 39 of 84 passes for 515 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He was not afraid to push the ball downfield with Denver, going 6-of-11 for 196 yards and a touchdown on passes that traveled 20+ yards in the air. He is not a conservative quarterback and will not hesitate to push the ball into tight windows down the field.

* With the change at quarterback, it doesn't make sense to dive into the Bengals offensive tendencies. The Bengals, for example, have passed the ball more than all but two teams this season. Will that remain the same without Joe Burrow? Probably not. The Bengals have struggled on third downs this year (36.7% , 30th in the NFL) and in the red zone (52.9% touchdown rate, 27th).

 * The Bengals will also be without lead running back Joe Mixon, who was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury. Veteran Giovani Bernard (who suffered a concussion last week) will get the majority of the carries, with former Washington fourth-round pick Samaje Perine (2017) also getting work in short-yardage situations. Bernard is a smaller, shiftier back, while Perine is a bigger power back. The Bengals have not gotten a lot of big runs out of their rushing attack this year, with only 23 runs that have gone for 10+ yards (tied for 27th).

* Cincinnati fields one of the best trios of wide receivers in the NFL, which is why they use a three-receiver set more than any other team in the league (76.6%). Tyler Boyd leads the team in receptions (69) and receiving yards (710). He has played 495 snaps in the slot and another 98 outside. Boyd is an elite route runner with excellent hands and change of direction capability. A.J. Green, meanwhile, has 448 snaps lining up outside and 106 in the slot. He has not been as explosive of a playmaker this year after a couple of injury-riddled seasons, and has 35 catches for 357 yards. They like to use him on back-shoulder catches, deep in-cuts and slants. Rookie wide receiver Tee Higgins has spent about a quarter of his snaps in the slot, with the rest coming outside. At 6-4 and 215 pounds, he is a physical vertical threat who can make contested catches and separate better than most scouts gave him credit for coming out of college. He has 43 catches for 629 yards, leads Bengals in yards per catch (14.6) and touchdowns (4).

* Despite having a top wide receiver corps, the Bengals have not been able to get the ball downfield with regularity this season. They only have 23 passes of 20+ yards (tied for 29th). On passes that travel more than 20 yards in the air, the Bengals only have a quarterback rating of 53.3. Against the blitz, they only have a 76.8 passer rating (28th)..

* The Bengals' offensive line has allowed their quarterbacks to be pressured on 34.4% of their dropbacks this year (23rd) with a sack rate of 7.8% (4th-highest). Former first-round pick Jonah Williams (2019) is their top offensive lineman and starts at left tackle. He has only allowed only one sack and five quarterback hits this season, per Pro Football Focus. Former Giants Bobby Hart is their starting right tackle. He has allowed 25 total pressures this season. Trey Hopkins is a reliable veteran center, while mid-season acquisition Quinton Spain is a good run blocker, Guard Michael Jordan has allowed two sacks, 14 quarterback hits and 32 total pressures this season at left guard.

When the Giants have the ball…

* The Bengals allow 6.13 yards per play (29th) and no allows more yards per rush play (4.97). They are ranked 25th in the NFL in yards allowed per pass play (7.26). They have allowed opponents to convert 45.2% of their third downs (22nd) and give up touchdowns on 71% of their opponents red zone trips (29th).

* The Bengals' pass rush has a league-low 22.1% pressure rate, and their 3.2% sack rate is ranked 29th. Star defensive tackle Geno Atkins missed first four games of the season with a shoulder injury and has only played 86 snaps this year, mostly as a situational pass rusher. He has no sacks or quarterback hurries this season. They lost run-stuffing defensive tackle DJ Reader to a quad injury earlier in the season. Veterans Mike Daniels and Christian Covington have picked up a lot of those snaps.

* The Bengals have allowed 45 runs of 10+ yards, which is tied for the most in the NFL. Their 10 rushes of 20+ yards allowed is more than all but two teams in the league. The Bengals give up just over six yards per play on first down (10th-highest) and no team allows more than their 6.1 yards per rush on second down.

* Carl Lawson is their most accomplished pass rusher and lines up almost exclusively over the opponent's left tackle. He has four sacks, 14 quarterback hits and 17 hurries this season. He is fast off the line of scrimmage and explosive.

* The Bengals do not do a lot to generate extra pressure. Only three teams run stunts less frequently than the Bengals, and they blitz at a rate just below the league average. When they do blitz, they are very effective, holding opposing quarterbacks to a 75.3 passer rating (5th-lowest). The Giants will have to stand up against a lot of 1-on-1 pass rushes. The Bengals have forced the fewest amount of negative yards, which is tied for last in the NFL at 124 yards. They have 13 sacks this season (tied for 28th).

* Veteran Josh Bynes and 2019 third-round pick Germaine Pratt are the team's three-down linebackers. Bynes has been strong in coverage this year, allowing only 14 catches for 34 yards. Third-round rookie Logan Wilson is their other starting linebacker and has two interceptions.

* Cincinnati's pass defense has been adept at picking off opposing quarterbacks, tied for 10th in the NFL with nine interceptions. Former second-round pick Jesse Bates III (2018) leads the team with three interceptions. He has been their most consistent player in the secondary and has been very effective as a ball-hawk at free safety.

* William Jackson is the team's top cornerback. He has allowed 29 catches for 433 yards and three touchdowns this season. He also has an interception. The other outside cornerback has been a rotation between different players, while Mackensie Alexander (hamstring) is their nickel but has been limited this week. The Bengals play the fifth-highest percentage of "Cover 1" in the league (36%) and are often in single-high safety alignments.

* Opponents have been able to make big plays on the Bengals' secondary. They have allowed 39 completions of 20+ yards (third-most). But on passes that travel at least 20 yards in the air, opposing quarterbacks have only a 65.0 passer rating, which is the third-lowest mark in the NFL.

View photos of the history between the New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals ahead of the Week 12 matchup.

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