Tyler Allgeier / Caleb Huntley / Avery Williams
The Bengals are giving up 4.7 yards per rushing attempt which is the tenth worst in the NFL. They are facing an offense that is third in the NFL in rushing yards and ninth in the league in yards per attempt. Because their passing game is so inferior to their rushing attack, expect the Falcons to lean on their running backs and Mariota’s legs.
If you are a believer in Football Outsiders, the Falcons have the best rushing DVOA in the NFL.
Their rushing attack has not missed a beat since their starting running back, Cordarrelle Patterson, went on IR because of a knee injury. Since then, it has been a running back by committee in Atlanta, which has them still in the top three rushing teams in the NFL.
Tyler Allgeier, Caleb Huntly, and Avery Williams have all played a part in this imposing run attack and they are starting to feel themselves.
The Bengals need to find a way to slow them down, putting Mariota into passing situations, thereby forcing Atlanta into passing the ball into Cincinnati’s imposing pass defense. The defense also needs to contain Mariota when he is scrambling.
Forcing the Falcons to do what they do the worst against what the Bengals do the best on defense is a winning formula for Cincinnati but only if they can slow Atlanta’s rushing attack. If not, it could be a long afternoon for the Bengals’ defense.
Another problem the Bengals will have to account for is Williams’ return ability. He leads the NFL, by a good amount, in average yards per punt return. Based on 1.25 returns per game, Williams is averaging 17.75 yards. Second place is averaging 12.22. Third place is Trent Taylor, with 11.82 yards per return.