Cincinnati Bengals: 3 Keys to Victory vs. Arizona Cardinals

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Aug 24, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) hands the ball off to running back Giovani Bernard (25) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Key to the Game #2: Spread the ball out on offense

Cincinnati’s offense has caught fire behind a West Coast passing attack. Andy Dalton has done it all, connecting with his receivers on short, intermediate and deep routs. With an explosive offensive arsenal, Dalton has torched opposing defenses on a weekly basis. But while Dalton was on a tear through the first eight games of the season, he lost touch in Week 9. The deep balls Dalton rifled down the field, usually catchable passes, were flying out of bounds. Andy Dalton needs to slow down, find his guys and move the ball down the field.

More important than Dalton’s play, however, is the Bengals’ running game, or lack thereof. Hue Jackson likes to feed the hot hand on offense, but it’s clear that Dalton’s hot streak has come to a close. Establishing the run not only gains yards, but also opens up the pass for Dalton and his pass-catchers. And with an offensive line that is performing at a high level, Dalton will be able to stay upright on play-action passes.

Setting the tone through the run would be huge for Cincinnati; forcing opponents to stack the box opens up the middle of the secondary for the Bengals’ pass-catchers to make plays. Tyler Eifert has been a touchdown machine this season, but he could make even more plays if the safeties covering him are forced to commit to the run. Establishing the run will also set up Marvin Jones to burn Arizona’s secondary deep. While Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu are two of the NFL’s best corners, they’ll likely be matched up on Green and Eifert, leaving Jones free to wreak havoc.

Next: Key #3