Bengals vs. Texans: 3 Matchups to Watch

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Oct 18, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) runs with the ball as Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Stefan Charles (96) pursues during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bengals beat the Bills 34-21. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard vs. Texans Run D

Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard have gotten off to relatively slow starts, strictly due to Andy Dalton‘s Pro Bowl-caliber 2015 season. Because of Dalton’s success with his pass-catchers, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has put the ball in Dalton’s hands on a more frequent basis, spreading out defenses. Although Jackson’s occasional run plays usually tear apart the opposing D, his decision to run the ball sparingly has caused Cincinnati’s running backs as individuals to suffer statistically–not to say that Jeremy Hill or Giovani Bernard aren’t playing well; they’re both having pretty good seasons.

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Cincinnati’s rushing offense, despite what most people feel to be a lack of commitment to the run, ranks 11th in the NFL in terms of rushing yards per game. The Bengals have also scored 10 rushing touchdowns, good for third in the league.

Houston’s run defense ranks 27th in the NFL in terms of yardage; the Texans give up 123.5 yards rushing per contest, and have gotten worse at stopping the run as the season progresses. Lamar Miller torched Houston’s run defense for 175 yards rushing (12.5 yards-per-carry) two weeks ago, and inexperienced Titans running back Antonio Andrews toted 16 carries for 64 yards (4.0 yards-per-carry) in Week 9.

Both Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard could easily accumulate 50 yards rushing each this week, and it’s easy to envision the duo scoring at least one or two touchdowns on the ground against such a shaky run D. Hue Jackson needs to get his backs going; a matchup against the Texans on Monday night could be the perfect opportunity to give Cincy’s backs the confidence they need to start breaking off more long runs.

Next: Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap vs. Texans O-Line