Sitting at 3-1-1 on the season and a half a game in front of the Baltimore Ravens, the Cincinnati Bengals are in the middle of a stretch that they are not accustomed to – their defense is losing them games. For a team that has been riding the success of their defense for the past three years, this latest trend is puzzling as well as alarming.
The worst news for the Bengals could be the fact that things could get even worse next weekend. The team will be traveling about two hours on I-74 to play the Indianapolis Colts and Andrew Luck. Here are the only two stats you need to know heading into this game:
- The Bengals ranked 28th in the league allowing an average of 398.8 yards a game on defense.
- The Colts rank first in the entire league averaging 444 yards per game on offense.
Luck is the league leader in passing yards with 1,987 on the season so far. At 4-2, the Colts are currently on a four-game winning streak and playing some of the best football they have since Peyton Manning‘s heyday. It’s a combination that does not favor the Bengals in the least.
Over the last two games, the Bengals defense has allowed 80 total points. Much of their struggle has come from their inability to get pressure on the quarterback – just one sack in the last two games (81 total pass attempts as pointed out by Lance McAlister). Robert Geathers has been pointless on the defensive line for the Bengals – adding nothing to the squad’s production and making many question where in the world Margus Hunt is. At the same time, the Bengals are getting very little production from Carlos Dunlap, Domata Peko and especially Geno Atkins.
Throughout the first three weeks of the season, many national pundits were praising the Bengals “suffocating defense”. While they were keeping points off the board, they were giving up yards in bunches. It was a trend that was alarming and something that we even discussed multiple times. Their inability to reach the quarterback has continued to plague them as their pressure has dwindled week after week.
For Andrew Luck, if the Bengals are unable to apply pressure to him, he will carve them up. Luck is not only one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, he is one of the best quarterbacks period. He will be the most potent quarterback the Bengals have faced this year – more dangerous than Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton.
While Luck may be salivating at his chance to dissect the Bengals defense, the true x-factor might just be tight end Coby Fleener. The Bengals have been absolutely horrific when it comes to defending tight ends in the passing game this season. Combine that with the injuries to Rey Maualuga and Emmanuel Lamur and next Sunday has the makings of a huge day for Luck and Fleenor.
Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther‘s defense is trending, just in the complete wrong direction. Facing games against the Colts and Ravens in the next two weeks could go a long way into defining the playoff race in the AFC. Considering the Bengals have a tie in their record as well now, Cincinnati cannot afford any further lapses if they hope to make a big splash in the conference come playoff time.
You know Luck is going to be sitting on film sessions absolutely giddy as they plan for Cincinnati this week:
Cover Photo: FOX Sports
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