The Cincinnati Bengals are back on track after an 0-2 start. However, they have several players who must step up Sunday night if they are going to take down the Baltimore Ravens in a battle for AFC North supremacy.
Running back Joe Mixon and the Bengals need to get things going on the ground. Among the running backs with five rushing attempts per game, Mixon ranks 56th out of 57 with an average of 2.73 yards per carry, according to Football DB.
Mixon’s running mate, Samaje Perine, averages 4.42 yards per carry on 12 attempts thus far. If Perine had enough attempts to be eligible, he would rank 27th, just behind Minnesota’s Dallvin Cook and in front of New Orleans’ Mark Ingram.
Do not count on Cincinnati running away from Mixon. He had 24 carries, while Perine only had one versus the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football.
Zac Taylor and Cincinnati’s coaching staff clearly felt the need and pressure to try to get Mixon going. However, the running back also has some angst about how things are going, as it was reported that Mixon called a “players-only meeting” with the offensive line to talk about some things.
The Bengals are going to need Mixon to step up in a big way to help Cincinnati get a win in Baltimore. Everyone knows what Lamar Jackson is capable of. Hopefully, the Bengals’ defense can stall the explosive quarterback. If not, a strong running game to help limit Jackson’s offensive outtake will be crucial.
After his breakout game against the New York Jets where he recorded 2.5 sacks, Trey Hendrickson was blanked by the Miami Dolphins. It will be critical for him to get pressure on Lamar Jackson.
Hendrickson must take advantage of his matchup with rookie left tackle Daniel Faalele. The fourth-rounder is getting praise from his teammates. He performed admirably in his first start against the Buffalo Bills. Hendrickson has the opportunity to give him his “welcome to the NFL” moment.
Baltimore will try to run behind the 6’8", 380-pound tackle in an effort to soften Cincinnati’s defense. Therefore, Hendrickson must also be ready to hold up in the run game.
To not tire him out, the Bengals should use more of a rotation throughout the game, with Hendrickson taking snaps on obvious passing downs. That formula worked out well in the Jets game when his percentage of snaps played was the least, but his impact was the greatest thus far this season.
Collapsing the pocket while containing Jackson is critical for the Bengals’ success, and Hendrickson must step up and lead that particular charge.
With Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard setting the edge for Cincinnati’s defense, the Bengals will need a push from the middle of the line. Enter B.J. Hill.
Hill, who re-signed with the Bengals this offseason, must provide pressure up the middle. If the edge rushers can keep containing, the defensive tackles must not let Jackson step up in the pocket. As much as people want to concentrate on Jackson’s running ability, he is fourth in the league in passer rating and leads the NFL in touchdown passes.
It will be tough for whoever lines up at defensive tackle for the Bengals. Left guard Ben Powers has turned into one of the best pass-block guards in the NFL.
Former Bengals guard Kevin Zeitler is also having a good season. In addition, their center, Tyler Linderbaum, is having an excellent rookie campaign.
Despite the stiff competition, Cincinnati’s defense must provide pressure from up the middle. Hopefully, that will start with Hill. With D.J. Reader on IR, it is more important than ever that Hill steps up against what is turning into a formidable interior offensive line.
Sunday’s game is a divisional matchup for first place. Thus, everyone must step up. But if Mixon, Hill, and Hendrickson can make a few impact plays, that will be an excellent sign for the Bengals.
We love the Bengals 3,000. Who Dey?!