The Cincinnati Bengals and New York Giants have both had difficulty closing out their opponents in recent weeks.
New York let their seventh win of the season slip through their fingers in the New Meadowlands last week. The Giants took at 20-10 lead into the fourth quarter against the rising Steelers, only to watch Pittsburgh score 14 unanswered points en route to a 24-20 victory in front of a stunned crowd.
Cincinnati has been in a relative funk all season long. At 3-5, they must win this game at home (something they have not done a lot of lately) over the defending Super Bowl champions to even be able to entertain thoughts of post-season play this year. Having juggernauts Pittsburgh and Baltimore in the same division certainly does not help matters.
On the topic of "helping", Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is not helping his team any by tossing taunts in the direction of New York's defense. He should spend some time and look over the defense of his own team, with its cast-offs and under-achievers.
While the Giants are under pressure to defeat the Bengals, a clearly inferior opponent, they can take some solace in the fact that they currently lead the NFC East by 2.5 games. Winning is always preferred (duh), but a loss in this one will not de-rail New York's entire season.
THREE THINGS TO EXPECT IN THIS GAME:
1) Eli Manning returns to his elite form and throws for more than 365 yards.
The above mentioned taunts by A.J. Green will go a long way in the Giants locker room. New York still hears about how they were "only" a 9-7 Super Bowl champion last year, so when someone disses one part of this team, they are dissing the WHOLE team.
Not to mention that Cincy is not packing much of a secondary back there. Despite having $20 million in cap space, the typically cheap Bengals filled one safety spot with a cast-off from the 49ers, Taylor Mays. He was a second round pick in 2010 and immediately shown the door by the 49ers Jim Harbaugh, for a measly seventh round choice in trade. The Bengals did not see the obvious red flag in that transaction, and Manning is going to exploit it in a big way on Sunday.
2) The Bengals will come out on top.
Simply put, the Giants have played the Bengals eight times since the Bengals entered the league. The home team has always won. Some trends just have a strange way of continuing.
3) Victor Cruz gets hit with a snowball following a touchdown while doing his obnoxious 'salsa dance'.
I'm not sure how much of this is just wishful thinking on my part, all I know is if it does happen, he deserves it.