Game Overview ::
By MIKE JOHNSON >>
- The Bengals enter this game fresh off their Week 7 bye and hope to make a run at the very competitive AFC North.
- San Francisco is looking to rebound from a tough Monday night loss on the road against the Vikings.
- Deebo Samuel is once again expected to miss this game for the 49ers, which should somewhat concentrate their touches.
- 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy was put in the league’s concussion protocol on Wednesday, meaning he will almost certainly miss this game and be replaced by Sam Darnold.
- This should be the healthiest we have seen the Bengals offense all year.
- The 49ers offense has scored 34 total points the last two weeks after scoring at least 30 in each of their first five games.
- This game is likely to be decided by turnovers and explosive plays, as two well-coached teams are likely to be in store for a slugfest.
How cincinnati Will Try To Win ::
The Bengals have had an up-and-down 2023 season in the early going, but they enter Week 8 with a 3-3 record and a chance to make a statement heading into the second half of the season on the road against a very good 49ers team. The 49ers are on the ropes and simply hoping to get to their Week 9 bye week while the Bengals should be fully prepared to push them and return to their status as a team that is a tough out on a weekly basis. Joe Burrow has struggled all season with a calf injury, but he should be the healthiest he has been in 2023. Tee Higgins returned from a rib injury in Week 6 but the team appeared to try to protect him with limited usage. He should also be close to full strength after a week of rest, giving the Bengals the closest thing they’ve had to their usually elite offense so far this year.
ONLY 84 Spots Left!
The 49ers defense has not surrendered more than 23 points all season and has held five of their seven opponents below 20 points. That being said, a full-strength Bengals offense will be, by far, the toughest test San Francisco has had this season. Cincinnati ranks second in the NFL in Pass Rate Over Expectation (PROE) as the Bengals have leaned heavily on Burrow to carry them due to their struggling running game and their need to play almost exclusively out of the shotgun due to his calf injury. It remains to be seen if the Bengals will be able to play under center more coming out of their bye and there is no tactical reason for Cincinnati to share that information prior to Sunday, as in either regard, they would prefer the 49ers enter the situation unsure of what to expect. Either way, the Bengals passing game is in the best shape it has been all year, while their running game has been inefficient all year and was during all of 2022 as well. After seeing Kirk Cousins dice up the 49ers pass defense on Monday night – he had 324 passing yards through three quarters – without the services of Justin Jefferson, the Bengals should enter this game very confident in their ability to move the ball through the air and also should expect that to be their best path to scoring points.
On the surface, San Francisco’s defensive DVOA metrics point to the Niners being easier to run on than throw on, but schematically and personnel-wise, they are built to be a tough run defense and the Bengals match up far better through the air. The Bengals are also likely to be aware of the fact the 49ers are built to play with a lead and that their best chance of leaving San Francisco with a victory is flipping that script and applying the pressure to Darnold and the 49ers offense. While Bengals head coach Zac Taylor has been frustrating at times during his time with the team for being too timid offensively, the Bengals’ elevated pass rate this season, finally near full-strength offensive personnel, and desired game script are all signs that this could be a week Cincinnati approaches with an aggressive mindset.