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Game Day News and Notes

Today’s game at Minnesota is clearly one of the premiere match-ups this week in the NFL. Heading to the 1:00 PM kick-off in Minnesota, here are a few notes and tidbits from various Bengals sources:

Hello Murray

The latest Shaun Smith era in Cincinnati last all of one day. On Saturday the team released the veteran DT and promoted DB Rico Murray from the practice squad. This may be an indication that the Bengals feel they need more help on special teams and in the backfield than the defensive front right now, where both Frostee Rucker and Jonathan Fanene can play DT in a pinch. It is unclear if Smith mercurial personality had anything to do with the move.

AP versus “The Boogeyman”

While much of the pre-game attention has focused on the quarterbacks and defenses in this one, no one should neglect the fact that this game features two of the best backs in the league. Adrian Peterson is a threat to take it the distance on every snap, and will surely test the Bengals gap discipline. Having gone away from the run early in the loss to Arizona, Vikings coach Brad Childress may want to re-emphasize the running game today.

Dubbed “The Boogeyman” by Tank Johnson, Cedric Benson continues to power his way towards a 1,000 yard season. Despite missing almost 3 full games with injury, Benson remains near the top of the league standings in yards and carriers. He needs 31 yards to reach 1,000 for the year, and should get it today, despite a tough matchup with “The Williams Wall” on the Viking D-Line.

Currently Peterson is third in the league in rushing yards (1,103) and attempts (241). Benson ranks seventh in yards (969) and fourth in attempts (241). It won’t be easy for either player; the Vikings rank third in rushing defense in the league. The Bengals rank second.

The Old Man and the Z

Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has lots of experience versus Brett Favre, and he’ll need it. Favre is playing perhaps his best ball of his entire career. The Bengals defensive line will have to get fast pressure on Favre, and the secondary will need to maintain their coverages well. Don’t be surprised if the Bengals attempt to go for more blitzes to get Favre out of sync early, particularly through sending defensive backs like Morgan Trent and Chinedum Ndukwe.

It has been pointed out that the Bengals inflicted the only 5 interception day on Brett Favre’s career back in 2005. A nice stat, but it’s important to note that the game was four years ago, when Favre was a Packer, and Chuck Breshnahan was the Bengals Defensive Coordinator. The players who got those interceptions (Odell Thurman, Deltha O’Neal, and Tory James) are no longer with the club.

Key Injuries

For the Bengals, they’ll be without starting DT Domata Peko and RB/KR Bernard Scott again this week. They should get S Chris Crocker back this week. The Vikings are a bit more banged up, having lost their starting MLB and leader of their defense, EJ Henderson. Henderson is out for the year, and will be replaced by rookie Jasper Brinkley. It also looks like the Vikes may be without rookie phenom WR Percy Harvin. However, they should get CB Antoine Winfield back after several weeks out.

Bengals Playoff Scenarios today

The Bengals can clinch the AFC North with a win against the Vikings or a loss or tie by the Ravens against Detroit. Any win for the Bengals or loss/tie by the Ravens over the course of the remainder of the season locks up the division for the Bengals.

Keys to a win

Defense: Contain Adrian Peterson and eliminate big plays in the passing game
Offense: Exploit the rookie in the middle to establish the run and don’t let Jared Allen disrupt the passing game
Special Teams: Eliminate big plays in the return game
All Phases: Play smart and eliminate penalties

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