The Cincinnati Bengals are 6.5-point favorites against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday but the “Dirty Birds” should not be taken for granted. They have a few players on their roster who could singlehandedly wreck game day for the club.
The Bengals have done an excellent job getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season but unfortunately, it has not translated to sacks. Pressures without sacks could be a bad combination against a mobile quarterback like Marcus Mariota.
Cincinnati will be able to create pressure versus Atlanta’s offensive tackles. PFF grades and positive feelings aside, left tackle Jake Matthews, and right tackle Kaleb McGary have had their fair share of getting beat off the edge. Because of how well the Falcons are running the ball and their overall PFF grades, you would think they are playing out of their minds. However, there will be opportunities for Cincinnati’s pass rushers to get home when Mariota drops back.
When the Bengals do get to Mariota, they must be able to bring him to the ground. Because of his ability to keep plays alive or take off down the field when necessary, Mariota’s rushing ability is a significant threat that Cincinnati’s defense must contend with.
However, Cincinnati and defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo have experience in this area, having to prepare for Lamar Jackson twice a year.
The Falcons are seventh in the NFL in points scored while being 22nd in total yards and 29th in passing yards yet their amazing rushing attack is third in the league, and Mariota accounts for 206 of their 991 rushing yards.
It will be essential for the Bengals' defense to bring down the Falcons’ quarterback before he can inflict damage with his legs. This is especially the case in third-down situations.