The Bengals defensive front could cause problems during the day. Geno Atkins in particular terrifies me. That said, the past two offensive performances makes me think that Steve Sarkisian is gaining confidence as a play caller and is already anticipating their defensive front. I think the Bengals will slow our offense more than the Saints and Panthers, but I also believe we have some good matchups against their offense. Getting Takk McKinley back will be the difference here, as I think he’ll keep Andy Dalton from getting too comfortable in the pocket and limit their offense just enough to get the win.
Falcons 31 - Bengals 24
The Falcons offense will once again have to carry the team in this one. Cincinnati’s defense is better than New Orleans’, particularly in the pass rushing department, but not by much. They’ve also struggled against the run far more than the Saints, which could make the Falcons’ play-action offense even more dangerous and help keep Andy Dalton and the Bengals’ offense on the sidelines. That’s really the best hope for this Falcons defense in keeping Cincy under 30 points, although the return of Takk McKinley should help Atlanta get some pressure up front. It’ll probably be uncomfortable, but the Falcons should get back to .500 on Sunday.
Falcons 34 - Bengals 24
I have full faith in the offense to keep humming against a team that couldn’t even begin to penetrate Carolina’s injury plagued offensive line this past Sunday. Tevin Coleman should find some more running lanes to work with this week than he saw against New Orleans, and Matt Ryan should find himself operating within a clean pocket. You just expect the offense to score every time they touch the ball at this point. On defense, the pass rush should make more of an impact than we saw last Sunday with the return of Takk McKinley. Get some pressure on Andy Dalton’s and make him play catch up and he’ll make some mistakes (four interceptions thrown last game). The Bengals’ offense won’t get shut down but they won’t keep up.
Falcons 30 - Bengals 28
This game has me more conflicted than any in the immediate future for the Falcons. The Bengals offense are going to be able to do a lot of things effectively against Atlanta’s defense; this is not a good matchup in the slightest. If they can put A.J. Green in the slot and get Gio Bernard active in the passing game, this could be an ugly afternoon for the defenders. They’re already fighting an uphill climb with losing Ricardo Allen from a communication standpoint. Atlanta is going to have to score 30 once again to get out of Dodge on this, though the Bengals defense has talent. Expect this one to be a “to the last whistle” affair once more, with home field and a field goal the difference to get Atlanta to 2-2. It’s time for Atlanta’s defensive coaching staff to step up and fill in the gaps where the talent cannot.
Falcons 31 - Bengals 27
A hard-fought, frustrating game that is in doubt until the end? Very little defense and plenty of offense? That sounds like a 2018 Falcons game, doesn’t it?
Enough questions. Atlanta can win this game if the offense keeps humming and the defense gets its act together even a little, and I think they will. A loss here puts the Falcons in a rough spot, and they shouldn’t lack for motivation.
Falcons 30 - Bengals 28
Expect this to be the third consecutive topsy-turvy game inside the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. With all the problems surrounding Atlanta’s defense, it’s hard to expect any straightforward games against half-decent opposition. The Bengals could be viewed as even better than half-decent. A rapidly improving offense featured a revamped coaching staff and plethora of playmakers will give Dan Quinn’s decimated defense serious problems. For all the defensive shortcomings, the offense appears to be ready for any challenge. Picking apart a subpar Bengals’ secondary shouldn’t be too difficult for Matt Ryan. As long as the protection holds up, the Falcons should win another high-scoring affair. Don’t be surprised to see Matt Bryant hit a game-winning field goal.