Here are some halftime observations:
Cincinnati’s pass protection hasn’t been great this year. But it is really getting exposed by Minnesota’s defense. The Vikings have one of the top defensive lines in the NFL, and they are winning a lot of battles up front on obvious passing downs. The Bengals likely will have to keep some tight ends and running backs in to help in the second half.
The Bengals are running the ball well, which has been their strength all season. Starting tailback Cedric Benson has 41 yards on seven carries and is averaging 5.9 yards per attempt. But the Bengals are behind and probably will need more big passing plays if they want to win this one.
Cincinnati has been very undisciplined when it comes to penalties. The Bengals have been flagged eight times already for 65 yards, and it’s come from the offense and defense. Many of these have been mental errors such as late hits or false starts.
Look for the Vikings to test Bengals backup safety Tom Nelson. Cincinnati starter Chris Crocker was carted off the field with an ankle injury in the first half, and Nelson is expected to play the rest of the game. The Bengals have struggled all year with slot receivers and tight ends.