1) 3rd Down Efficiency
One argument for why the Bengals need to run the ball more is to face more manageable third- and fourth-down situations.
On Sunday, Cincinnati was 5-14 on third down and 0-3 on fourth down.
Three drives ended with third-down sacks. Yes, adding insult to the proverbial injury, each of the sacks surrendered by the team on Sunday came on third downs. And one came with a test of Burrow’s calf and a huge hit.
The Bengals are one of the worst teams regarding third-down production this season. They rank 27th in the league in third-down conversion percentage, converting at a 34.29% rate. Unfortunately, that was on display again against the Cardinals, as 35% of Cincinnati’s attempts were successful.
The Bengals are entering a stretch of games where they might be underdogs. They will face some of the best defenses in the NFL. If they want a chance, they need to prolong drives and come away with points at the end of those drives. They can’t count on a pick-six to cover up for not converting on fourth and goal.
Along with these imposing defenses come impressive offenses. Cincinnati's offense needs to stay on the field longer to reduce the number of opportunities for the opponent to score.
The good news for the Bengals is that the Seahawks rank 31st in third-down conversion percentage with a success rate of 28.89%. However, it will be difficult to put them in those situations. Despite only having played four games, Seattle is 13th in scoring. They are sixth in points per game.
Cincinnati’s defense must force Seattle into third-down situations. They will have a good chance of getting off the field If they can. One way of slowing their offense’s scoring output is to convert on third down at a higher rate.
The Bengals have brought back that loving feeling for at least a week. If they want it to linger, they must, as the cliché goes, come away with a victory against a West Coast team playing a 1:00 p.m. game. Then, all will be right in Who Dey Nation heading into the bye week.
But in order to get that victory, they will need to be better in several statistical areas.