Bengals must force Chargers to stop the run in Week 13
As the playoff-chasing Cincinnati Bengals prepare for a Los Angeles Chargers team that is also in contention, the key to the game is as glaringly obvious as you will ever see at the NFL level.
The Bengals have won their last two games by an average of 25 points. In those two games, Cincinnati has run the ball a total of 76 times for 357 yards. None of this is a coincidence. Even though it is nice to have a quarterback with the ability to do it, Cincinnati’s best chance to win is when Joe Burrow doesn’t have to put on his superhero cape.
Meanwhile, the Chargers have given up over 100 yards rushing in three of their last four outings. In fact, Los Angeles has allowed over 100 rushing yards more than any other team in the league this year. For a rush defense struggling to this degree, a ground attack led by a healthy and in form Joe Mixon is at best a less than ideal matchup.
Burrow’s team going up against that of his draft classmate Justin Herbert for the first time is flashy and fun. However, Cincinnati’s formidable ground game and the Chargers’ inability to stop one are just too crystal clear for the real key to Sunday’s game to be anything else.
Prior to this year, you would have been hard-pressed to find a bigger critic of Zac Taylor and his staff than me. To their credit, they have made great strides this year and it has paid off in the win/loss column, the only place that matters.
Still, Sunday’s game must start out with the same run-heavy approach that has guided the Bengals for the last two weeks. If that approach doesn’t dominate the game until the Chargers at least push back a little, the staff should be lined up and have rotten tomatoes thrown at them.