Can Bengals’ running game come to life against Colts?

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CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 28: Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals carries the ball against Marcus Burley #42 of the Indianapolis Colts during the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 28: Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals carries the ball against Marcus Burley #42 of the Indianapolis Colts during the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) /
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The Bengals need to find out what happened to the running game. With the Colts struggling on defense, Week 8 could be an awakening for the ground attack.

What’s the heart and soul of every NFL offense? Well, it’s gotta be the quarterback… right? That actually depends on who’s calling the signals. But, the meat and potatoes of the AFC North is the running game. Outside of bone-crunching defense, the north demands a team that has a ground attack to complement timely passing. When the Indianapolis Colts (2-5) gallop into Cincinnati for a Week 8 matchup with the Bengals (2-4), sights will be set on the run. This should be a chance for the Bengals to feast.

But, words and deeds don’t always match with the 2017 version of the Cincinnati Bengals. There have been numerous opportunities left on the field and prove to be the reason behind their losing record. The biggest surprise of the campaign has been the failure of the running game.

The Bengals fall in at No. 29 in the league. They’re managing a paltry 81.8 yards per game. If Cincinnati continues on such a torrid pace, they would end the year with 1,309 yards. That would put them significantly lower than both rushing totals from 2016 (1,769) and 2015 (1,805).

What’s The Deal?

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For the most part, it seems that the Bengals like to run a tight ship when it comes to balancing the run and pass. There’s usually going to be 30-35 attempts for Andy Dalton and the passing game, along with 17-20 running plays. Decent balance, right? Meh. Most backs need at least 20-30 carries to start feeling the groove. And with the Bengals trying to please three players in the backfield, the chances of getting the rock more than 15 times is slim.

There were four games in which Joe Mixon could have broken the century mark. Against the Steelers, Bills, Packers and Texans, Mixon’s numbers look great when taken to the typical 25-30 carries. But, that doesn’t happen very often in the Bengals’ offensive game plans. When it does, take cover. The sky is about to fall.

After his little postgame truth session in Pittsburgh, Mixon may not see the bulk of the carries against the Colts. That duty may fall to Giovani Bernard. But, that’s not a bad thing. Bernard has the speed and quick bursts to get those chunk yards the Bengals need to gain confidence for the O-line. Hopefully, Marvin Lewis is able to keep it in professional mode and think about what’s best for the Bengals.

What Has To Happen

It’s another no-brainer for Bill Lazor this week. Yes, Dalton can manage the game and give the Bengals a chance to win (crossing my fingers). But, to have a ball control offense and keep the pressure on Indy, Lazor has to pump up the run. This is the same dilemma that stumped Ken Zampese.

The Colts come into this Week 8 matchup struggling on defense. They rank No. 30 in total D. Obviously (I’m obsessed with using Marv terminology), the Bengals should run the ball. Indianapolis is surrendering 120 yards per game on the ground. But, we’re talkin’ bout the Bengals.

Next: Time To Get It Right

Chances are, they’ll elect to beef up the passing attack. Don’t get the words twisted. If it works, fine. Just put a W on the board. But, there’s always room for having a great day both running and passing.

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