Cincinnati Bengals run game is thriving at the perfect time
By Riley Thomas
The city of Cincinnati has turned into Wincinnati once again as the Cincinnati Bengals are coming off back-to-back blowout victories.
All systems are a go with the Cincinnati defense playing well while the offense is pouring on points. Perhaps the most encouraging trend in the last two weeks is the success in the run game for the Bengals.
The run game has been consistent and effective over the last two weeks. Cincy ran for 159 yards on 4.2 yards per carry vs. the Raiders, then they rushed for an imposing 198 yards on 5.2 yards per carry against the division-rival Steelers.
Cincy’s lead running back Joe Mixon is enjoying what could be his best season yet. Mixon is among the top rushers in the NFL thus far as he ranks third with 924 rushing yards. In addition, Pro Football Reference credits Mixon with 355 rushing yards after contact (4th) and 18 broken tackles (1st).
The fifth-year running back is making defenders pay with his elusive running style complemented by a bruising physicality.
Mixon rushed for 123 yards vs. the Raiders and 165 vs. the Steelers; he is among the league’s elite right now, without question. The elevated play of the offensive line is certainly part of the run game’s recent dominance. Mixon has run well all season, but now he is putting the league on notice behind improved run blocking.
Mixon certainly deserves his credit, he ran for a ridiculous 134 yards after contact vs. the Steelers. With that said, look at some of these holes created by the offensive front. My goodness, you can drive a truck through several of these openings.
Inserting Hakeem Adeniji at right guard definitely looks like the correct move as of now. Plus, Quinton Spain is continuing his high level of play. Jonah Williams at left tackle is coming into his own as well. The left side of the offensive line was pure dominance vs. Pittsburgh on Sunday.
The run game absolutely mauling opponents is coming at the perfect time. As the season slowly transitions to winter temperatures, the weather will only get nastier from here on out. If the Bengals find themselves in the playoffs, which appears likely, an effective rushing attack makes everything a lot easier.
Part of the run game’s success is opposing defenses are adjusting to Joe Burrow’s superb play this season. Defenses are opting to play it safe and attempt to slow down the passing game and the deep threat of the outstanding rookie Ja’Marr Chase.
In turn, this is allowing Mixon to take over on the ground. If the offensive line continues their good play, it becomes pick your poison when defending against the Bengals.
Cincinnati faces off with the Chargers — who have a vulnerable rushing defense that ranks last in the NFL — in Week 13 at 1 PM EST.