Jeremy Hill has had an up-and-down season, but the Bengals will need to get him going on Monday Night to come out of Denver with a win.
In his 2014 season, Hill rushed for 100 yards or more five times despite not becoming the full-time starter until late in the season. Hill also got into the end zone six times. Hill’s production in those last nine games made him the league’s leading rusher over the second half of the season.
In total, Hill tallied 1,124 yards and nine touchdowns in his rookie season. Through 15 weeks in 2015, Hill has only totaled 635 yards on the ground. He was even benched after losing two fumbles in the Bengals’ Week 2 victory over the Chargers.
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Many have called Hill’s diminish in productivity a sophomore slump, and rightfully so. However, Hill has still been a somewhat productive running back. He is incredibly effective in the red zone, and he has been coming on as of late. The one bright light in Hill’s sophomore season is his league-high 10 rushing touchdowns.
Hill was benched in the first quarter of Sunday’s win against the 49ers because he overslept, missing a team meeting. That’s simply unacceptable for Hill, but the coaches’ decision to bench the running back over one mistake is still a head-scratcher.
After clinching a playoff berth with a win over San Francisco, Cincinnati now looks to clinch an AFC North title and a first-round playoff bye with a win in Denver. If the Bengals can win on Monday night, Cincinnati will essentially have a two-game bye. The Week 17 game against the Ravens will be completely meaningless, unless the Patriots somehow lose to the Jets in Week 16.
With A.J. McCarron at the helm for Cincinnati, Hill will need to step up his game. Two of the running back’s best games of the season have come in the past four weeks–not to mention, the running back still scored two touchdowns last week in what was a disappointing performance. Last season, Hill’s 85-yard touchdown scamper against the Broncos was a catalyst that led to a Bengals victory. He’ll need to break off some chunk plays in Monday night’s game if Cincinnati wants to come out with a win.
Jeremy Hill’s disappointing sophomore campaign won’t matter if he can make an impact in Monday night’s game. The Bengals’ clash with the Broncos is easily the team’s most important game of the season, and any big plays coming from the running back will be more than appreciated.