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Bengals at Saints: Five things to watch

Turnovers will be crucial


It has become painfully obvious this season that when the New Orleans Saints lose the turnover ratio, winning is exponentially more difficult. In the four losses New Orleans has that have been by a combined nine points, the Saints are minus-5 in the turnover ratio. Half of the team's season total 18 turnovers have been committed in those games. The Saints could choose a more conservative offensive approach but the fact is that nothing guarantees a team won't commit a turnover. Besides, that's not who the Saints have been under Coach Sean Payton. They don't figure to be any more risky than usual, but they aren't likely to be any less, either. Quarterback Drew Brees didn't become the fastest quarterback to 40,000 yards with one team in league history, and the Saints' offense didn't happen to lead the league in total yards four times and twice in scoring since 2006, by going three-yards-and-a-clump-of-turf. But the turnovers have to cease, or at least sliced to a more manageable number.

Cornerback Patrick Robinsoncould be more critical than usual if Keenan Lewis's injured knee prevents him from playing against the Bengals, or limits his effectiveness. Robinson looks to have rebounded from an uneven start to the season that led to Corey Whitereplacing him in the starting lineup at right cornerback. Give him credit for continuing to work hard and refusing to pout, and even diving head first into making an impact on special teams. He has been solid in the sub-packages on defense but he may be called to frontline duty Sunday. If so, he's going to be tested – receiver A.J. Green(23 catches, 381 yards, three touchdowns) is back in Cincinnati's lineup after healing from a toe injury, and Mohamed Sanu(41-648-4) is a good compliment to Green. The Bengals won't be bashful about attempting to get the ball into the hands of either.

We're running out of compliments for Saints running back Mark Ingram, whose third consecutive 100-yard rushing game made  him the first Saints back since Deuce McAllisterin 2003 to accomplish that feat. Ingram is up to 551 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 115 carries this season, and he's not showing any sign of slowing down. He has 81 carries for 392 yards in the last t three games. Khiry Robinsonand Pierre Thomasstill might not be available but Ingram, who has had consecutive games of 24, 30 and 27 carries, hasn't appeared to need the help. Cincinnati allows 143 rushing yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry; this could be another big game for Ingram and the Saints.

After chasing Aaron Rodgers,Cam Newtonand Colin Kaepernickin consecutive weeks, the Saints defense will catch a break with Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton. But not much. Dalton isn't quite as mobile as the aforementioned trio, but he's nimble enough to avoid trouble and to buy time for his receivers to get open. So the Saints pass rushers will have to remain disciplined, as they have been while rolling up 11 sacks in the last three games. A harried quarterback usually leads to good things defensively.

The flip side is, the Bengals appear to have found their own productive running back in LSU rookieJeremy Hill (404 yards and five touchdowns on 84 carries). He's a big back, which means linebackerCurtis Loftonprobably will be zoned in on Hill when he's on the field. The Saints are fresh off allowing 144 rushing yards and two touchdowns to San Francisco, on 32 carries. It's an area that obviously needs to be addressed and cleaned up this week because as formidable as Cincinnati's passing game can be, it'll look to get some offensive balance through the running of Hill.

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