The Cincinnati Bengals defense will have their hands full this weekend.
Heading into Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints, the Bengals rushing defense currently ranks 31st in the NFL with an average 143 yards rushing per game. And if not for the Giants allowing 350 yards rushing against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Cincinnati would easily have the league's worst rushing defense. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, if the Bengals keep up with this pace, they will allow 2,228 yards rushing, which would be the most yards allowed since 1978.
"We've got to be more consistent in our 11 guys on defense, because it's not one thing, one guy, one area, we've got to put all three areas together consistently all the time," head coach Marvin Lewis said via the Enquirer. "I guess they had 50-something runs (Thursday) – 52 to be exact. Thirty-five of them were played pretty well. The breakdowns are things that we've got to correct. It's not up to our standards, it's not good enough, and obviously it didn't help us win the football game."
Cincinnati's defense has allowed 100 yards rushing or more in seven straight games -- allowed 170 yards rushing or more in three of their last six. There are 12 players that have generated 50 yards rushing and/or two rushing touchdowns against the Bengals this season.
Saints running back Mark Ingram, who will face the Bengals defense this weekend, posted 120 yards rushing against the San Francisco 49ers during New Orleans' 27-24 overtime loss on Sunday. It was Ingram's third consecutive 100-yard rushing performance, which is the first time that a Saints player has done that since Deuce McAllister in 2003.
After 9 carries for 35 yards in the first half, Ingram exploded for 85 on 18 in the second half and overtime.
"I always say that I feel like in the beginning defenses play hard and play strong, but I think when you run the ball effectively and efficiently and physical I think they start to get tired and wear down a little bit in the second half, and that's when you get a couple large gains, 10-plus, or 8, 9."
Ingram's most impressive display Sunday came on three carries over a four-play stretch in the third quarter, when he rushed for 31 yards on two runs of 11 and another of nine.
The opportunity for Ingram surfaced when running back Khiry Robinson (some suspect a broken arm) and Pierre Thomas (shoulder) sat with injuries.
New Orleans ranks sixth in the NFL with 130.2 yards rushing per game, along with 12 rushing touchdowns -- only two teams have more (Kansas City and Seattle). The Bengals have allowed 12 touchdowns this season -- only two teams have allowed more (Atlanta and New York Giants).
Players with 50 yards rushing and/or multiple rushing touchdowns against the Bengals defense this season.