Matchup Must-Watch: Bengals Receivers vs. Giants Secondary

A breakdown of the Bengals Receivers vs. the Giants Secondary

From losing their franchise star, to airing grievances out of the locker room, the Bengals have had a rough week. 

Despite the adversity, the season doesn't stop. There are still six games remaining. 

The New York Giants are the first test for the Burrow-less Bengals and Cincinnati's strongest position group has a chance to buoy the team for another week. 

Let's assess how the two teams stack up in the passing game, as the Bengals pursue their third win of the season.

Tyler Boyd vs. Darnay Holmes

Death, Taxes, Tyler Boyd.

It's that simple at this point with Boyd, who has cemented himself as a top-five slot receiver and arguably the best possession pass-catcher in the NFL. The Pittsburgh-product leads the Bengals in catches (69), receiving yards (710), and is second behind Giovani Bernard with 218 yards after contact. Boyd also paces the team in targets (87), which should continue on Sunday as the Bengals ease in quarterback Brandon Allen.

Allen can breathe a sigh of relief whenever he looks for Boyd on Sunday. The Giants have been one of the worst teams in the league at defending slot receivers and Darnay Holmes is a big reason why. 

The rookie has struggled with inside coverage, allowing a 75% completion rate on 37 targets. He's given up 268 yards and a 95.3 passer rating. Holmes is one of Boyd's easier matchups on the season, and it comes at the perfect time.

Tee Higgins vs. James Bradberry

Something has to give in this battle between two of the breakout stars at their respective positions. Higgins has been everything Bengals fans could ask for following his selection in the second round of this year's draft. The 2020 receiver class is doing some special things, and Higgins is no exception.

The rookie is third among all first-year wideouts in receiving yards (629), and he has the second-most first-down catches (34) by a rookie through 11 games in league history. Two other 2020 rookies pace that list, proving Higgins can forge his path in a crowded field. He has been the Bengals' most versatile weapon, but will the Giants treat him that way?

Any other year the Giants would shadow A.J. Green with their top corner, yet we could see a lot of James Bradberry lined up across from Higgins. One of the marquee free agents this offseason, Bradberry is living up to his new contract. The shutdown maven has three interceptions (6th-most among cornerbacks) and 14 forced incompletions, the most in the league according to Pro Football Focus.

Bradberry has taken over the Giants pass defense, leading the New York secondary in passer rating allowed (72) and completion rate allowed (57.4%) among qualified players (min. 20 targets). He has given up a team-high three touchdowns in coverage, proving he can be burnt now and then.

A.J. Green vs. Isaac Yiadom

A battle of 2020 disappointments, it would make sense to see the Giants match their struggling outside corner up with the Bengals veteran. Green caught his first touchdown of the season last weekend, becoming the last wide receiver ranked in the top-20 of targets to haul in a score. It's been that kind of season for Green, who's lost a step after missing nearly two years due to injuries. 

The 2011 first-round pick has been last in average separation (1.7 yards) all season long. Along with a lack of explosion, Green has the second-worst catch rate (45.5%) and third-worst yards after catch rate (2.1 yards) among all receivers. The four years of elite production Green claimed he had left this offseason seem long gone, but he gets a juicy matchup against New York.

Isaac Yiadom has been doing his best impersonation of saloon doors all season. His 19 catches allowed ranks 92nd among cornerbacks league-wide, and he's allowed 16.2 yards per reception, the most of any qualified Giants corner. Combine all that with a 135.4 passer rating allowed, and you get the weakest link on an already shaky secondary. It's never ideal starting a backup quarterback, but the Giants' secondary has some holes that Brandon Allen can attack.

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