Despite the fact that Chris Johnson has been by far the one of the biggest disappointments of the 2011 season, his name usually strikes fear into the hearts of the fans of opposing teams. He has the moves, speed and elusiveness to turn any run into a touchdown and, even though he hasn't really been all that good this year, most have the feeling that it's only a matter of time before he explodes.
So if we basically assume that Johnson is an active volcano that could erupt any second we would be nervous for the team's defense that plays against him in Week 9. And whadd'ya know, it's the Bengals.
However, based on the Bengals' (and the AFC North's) history against Chris Johnson, I don't think there's reason to be really worried.
The Bengals have only played against Chris Johnson once and that was in their home opener of the 2008 season. Johnson ran the ball 19 times for 109 yards and no touchdowns against the Bengals in Mike Zimmer's first year in Cincinnati. He added 12 yards on two receptions. What you may remember about that game is that was the same day that a massive wind storm blew through Cincinnati. If you were here, you know what I'm talking about. If not, it wasn't just a windy day, the gusts of wind cost the state close to $500 million in damages and left one million people in Ohio without power. I was at the game and it was blowing so hard that my seat was shaking.
Neither team threw the ball often because they just couldn't so Johnson got a ton of carries. It's hard to really get an idea of how the Bengals have played against Johnson since that was the only time the two teams met. Since the Bengals defense has been on par with the Steelers and Ravens through the first eight games of the 2011 season, I figured it would only be fair to bring up Johnson's performance against the Steelers, Ravens and the Browns as well.
Against the rest of the AFC North (not counting Johnson's performance against the Bengals in 2008), Johnson has carried the ball 145 times for 545 yards and three touchdowns. He has only run for over 100 yards three times against the AFC North and never against Pittsburgh or Baltimore. His best three games against the AFC North came in 2008 against the Bengals, the same year against Cleveland and this season against Cleveland. However, against the best defenses in the division, he's looked like any other running back.
Based on that and the fact that Johnson just hasn't looked good, whether it's his fault or his offensive line's fault doesn't matter, I'm not too terribly worried about Johnson against the Bengals, whose defense can be compared to Pittsburgh's and Baltimore's this season. While this matchup would have made me ruin my pants before the season started, I look at it now and thing Chris Johnson versus the Bengals front seven..... bring it.