The Cincinnati Bengals have struggled the last two games with both Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill having less than solid weeks. They have combined for 64 yards in San Francisco and only 55 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Could this article just an over reaction to a couple of bad games or could this be a trend to watch late in the season?
The Pittsburgh Steelers might be an over reaction, or at least a little bit of one. The Pittsburgh Steelers are ranked 5th in rush defense and teams only average 89.4 yards per game against them in the run game. So we can almost through that out but the one thing that makes me hold onto that performance is that they gained 17 yards more in Pittsburgh. So they performed worse at home than they did on the road, that is a little concerning.
The game against the San Francisco 49ers, who is the 27th best team against the run, only gained 64 yards against. That is right, the 49ers are giving up an average of 128.6 yards per game on the ground and the Bengals averaged only half of that. They did score two rushing touchdowns, and as good as that should make fans feel, it doesn’t, at least for me.
The offense that the Bengals were so successful with early has crumbled before our eyes and in my opinion, could hold the key to the Bengals winning next week against the best run defense in the league and fighting for the AFC North title in week 17. The Broncos defense has carried this team, at least in 10 of their 14 games so far.
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If the Bengals find a way to pull off a win in Denver, they would have the first round bye and seal up the AFC North. A.J. McCarron played a good game for his first start, but 15 completions on 21 attempts for 192 yards and 242 total net yards for the Bengals will most likely come up short. That is, unless the defense can do exactly what they did against the 49ers, shut them down until late in the game.
The Bengals balanced offense will need to be at it’s best if they expect to win next Monday evening, and although it is not impossible, it is a hurdle they face in the final two games of the season. The implications of week 16 is simple, unlike the game, win, and you are playing in the second week of the playoffs, lose and it makes week 17 an almost most win scenario for the AFC North crown. I hope it is not a trend but with the next week being against the best defense in the league, it is not far to believe it isn’t something that will change for another game.