This week's opposing view comes from Bengals.com senior editor Geoff Hobson. A Syracuse University graduate, who covered the Bengals off and on for The Cincinnati Post and The Cincinnati Enquirer for 10 years (1990-2000) before moving to Bengals.com on Draft Day of 2000. He can be followed on Twitter at @GeoffHobsonCin
How much confidence do the fans and coaching staff have in quarterback Andy Dalton?
Hobson: The fans want a physical specimen like Carson Palmer and a charismatic leader like Boomer Esiason and seem to have a love-hate relationship with Dalton and go with the ebb and flow.
But the coaches and organization are all in. They wonder, at times, about the occasional head-scratching blunders that come out of the blue. And everyone wonders about his long-ball accuracy, which can be sporadic.
Yet overall the club likes his resiliency and ability to win tough games and not give them away with reliable decisions as evidenced by two playoff berths, and a 23-15 record that includes 12-7 on the road. He has 39 career touchdown throws and just one interception in the red zone, the leading ratio among active quarterbacks. And if he gets to the playoffs this year he’ll become only the fifth starting QB in NFL history to reach the playoffs in each of his first three seasons: Pat Haden of the Rams (1976-78), Dan Marino of the Dolphins (1983-85), Bernie Kosar of the Browns (1985-87) and Joe Flacco of the Ravens (2008-10).
Who is one Bengals player Lions fans haven’t heard of but could have an impact on Sunday?
Hobson: They may have heard of second-year WILL backer Vontaze Burfict, but they probably don't know the guy is a Pro Bowler in waiting after a rookie season where he racked up 174 tackles despite not being drafted. According to NFL.com, he’s second in the NFL in tackles.
The guy never comes off the field, has outstanding instincts, sets the huddle, relays the calls, is tough against the run, and has a great feel for the pass game. He's a key figure as the Lions try to mismatch the Bengals with
Hobson: Four-man pressure on Stafford and flood the zone with seven defenders. Since 2012 the Bengals and Broncos lead the league with 69 sacks.
What is the key matchup for the Bengals?
Hobson: Bengals right guard Kevin Zeitler vs.
The Bengals will win if …
Hobson: Their defense bends but doesn't break and doesn't allow big chunk plays by the Lions' many playmakers. On offense, if they run it 30 times, control the clock in the 32:16 range like they have this season, and get 50 yards from two receivers each, other than A.J. Green, they'll win because they’ll rest their defense and give Green room to make some plays.