2012 NFL Preseason Thursday Night Football Edition: Bengals vs. Falcons Preview
Week 2 of the 2012 NFL preseason is set to kick-off tonight at 8:00pm est. on FOX, as the Atlanta Falcons play host to the Cincinnati Bengals in the Georgia Dome. The Falcons lost against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1, 34-17, while the Bengals were able to shut-down the New York Jets 17-6 in their first preseason game.
While preseason in the NFL might not be great, its still football, and it’s still better than 99% of what’s currently on tv. Here are five things to that are worth watching for in tonight’s match-up:
1. Atlanta’s Air Attack Offense
It’s been noted that since Dirk Koetter took over the offensive coordinating duties in Atlanta, that the Falcons would become a more up-tempo passing team, much like their NFC South foe New Orleans Saints. Matt Ryan and company displayed that early on against the Ravens in Week 1. On their first drive of the game, Ryan led the Birds down the field 80 yards for an opening touchdown pass to second year pro Julio Jones. Look for more of the same tonight while the offensive starters are on the field.
2. Cincinnati’s Running Game
With BenJarvus Green-Ellis missing his second straight game with a sore foot, and back-up running back Bernard Scott also out with a hand injury, the Bengals will deploy Cedric Peerman, Brian Leonard and rookie Dan Herron. Peerman and Herron should see the bulk of the carries with Peerman getting the early look, while Herron will try to prove that he deserves a spot on the 53-man roster. The Bengals aren’t trying to be a dominate running team this year, but it helps to have serviceable backs behind Green-Ellis and Scott.
3. The Falcons Offensive line
One of the bigger concerns coming into the 2012 NFL season for the Falcons was the play of their offensive line. Last year Matt Ryan seemed to be under constant duress causing numerous sacks, and bad throws. This year they made sure they went out and got some help by drafting two offensive lineman with their first two picks in the NFL draft. One of the two battles to watch is rookie Peter Konz vs. Garrett Reynolds at the right guard position, this battle should come down to the very last preseason game.
4. Bengals Secondary
Terrance Newman, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys, signed as a free-agent during the offseason, and although he may be past his prime, he is still an upgrade for what was a poor secondary last season. The Bengals let T.J Yates and the Houston Texans pass all over them in last years playoffs which is why this was a big concern coming into the season. Leon Hall is still recovering from a torn achilles, and Taylor Mays suffered a concussion last week. This could be one of the leagues worst secondaries if someone doesn’t step up and make an impact.
5. The Linebacking Crew for Atlanta
After having already lost star linebacker Chris Lofton in the offseason, starting middle linebacker Akeem Dent (concussion) had a scare last week and will not play tonight, which isn’t all that bad considering it looked like he injured his knee which would be much more concerning. The Falcons signed Lofa Tatupu to bolster their linebacking core, but released him after he suffered a torn pectoral in offseason workouts. It’s now up to veteran Mike Peterson to fill-in of the injured Dent for the time being.
Game Prediction: Atlanta 24 Cincinnati 17