CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 11: Cedric Benson#32 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball during the NFL game against Houston Texans at Paul Brown Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Here are the final two keys to a Bengals victory in St. Louis on Sunday against the Rams in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.
|No. 2: Get Out to a Fast Start|
When it comes to stopping Steven Jackson, there's more than one way to skin a cat. They can stop him from running by the front seven playing tough, smash-mouth football or they can stop him by jumping out to an early lead and forcing the Rams to throw the ball to catch up.
If the Bengals can come out of the gates firing on all cylinders and get out to an early lead, the Rams won't have much of a choice but to abandon the run game and start throwing the ball to try to catch up. With Clemens in the game, this should be exactly what the Bengals defense wants. If the Rams abandon the run, the Bengals pass rush should be able to step up and create some potential turnovers for the secondary.
|No. 1: Run, and Then Run Some More|
The Rams have the ability to get to the quarterback, which is partly the reason they have the league's eighth-ranked pass defense. However, they have the league's worst run defense. The Bengals need to feed the ball to Cedric Benson and then after they do that, they need to feed the ball to Benson some more.
Benson ran for over 90 yards in the first half of the team's Week 14 game against the Texans and their fourth-ranked run defense. If he can do that against the Texans and if he plays the same way against the Rams, imagine what he can do. If the offensive line does their job and Benson is running hard (he needs to start impressing teams for 2012) he can have a huge game and carry the Bengals to victory.
Besides, the running game opens the passing attack and play action. If the Bengals can get to that point, they'll complete the first of three steps of having a chance to head to the playoffs.