The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off a pair of odd performances these last two post-bye weeks. The first was a blow-out loss to the Patriots, the second was the first overtime tie of the season. But it's not just the result that has Bengals fans scratching their heads. It's the way in which those results came to be that's befuddling the Queen City.
Marvin Jones has yet to play a snap this season, and Eifert is waiting to see action since Week 1. Though A.J. Green played against the Patriots, he's missed extended time otherwise. Next week will see his status as either "doubtful" or "questionable," but don't expect him to play. Cincinnati has placed Jones on the season-ending IR.
With all of that said, the offense looks fine. Despite the fact that they only put up 17 points in New England, Dalton (although not stellar) performed decently. The loss was more due to fumbles and a defense that boasted more holes than swiss cheese in both the secondary and the run defense.
Then, against Carolina, the Bengals had no trouble sticking with the big plays, riding Andy's arm, Sanu's hands, and Gio's legs to 37 points, 34 of which came in regulation. Again, it was the defense, this time with Burfict, that failed to perform to the level we've come to expect. 80 points in two weeks, and suddenly the side of the ball that is used to being the team's heart and soul is struggling with a case of missing identity.
The run defense has been atrocious, first letting the Patriots' running backs average over five yards a carry and then allowing Cam Newton to rush for 107 yards and a touchdown. The secondary hasn't been any more consistent.
They'll need to get that corrected, and fast. Indianapolis is at home and Andrew Luck has been putting on a gun-slinging show all season, lighting up opposing secondaries. Yes, I have him as my starting fantasy quarterback. And yes, I plan to start him this week.
Because he's about to do the same thing to Cincinnati.
Through just six weeks, Andrew Luck has nearly eclipsed 2000 yards passing. And while the running game hasn't stood out as exceptional, it may not have to if Luck continues to complete two out of every three pass attempts.
Andy Dalton has about 700 less yards then Luck, but that doesn't have any bearing on the explosiveness the Bengals offense can showcase. Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill have become the respective rocks for this offense, allowing Dalton to play game-manager, a position that suits the fourth year signal-caller.
Even though the Colts defense is showing signs of improvement, it won't likely won't be enough to stop this tandem of runners. Despite the injuries, the Bengals just keep finding ways to put points on the board. That bodes well for Cincinnati fans, because until the defense remembers who they are, they're going to need all the offense they can get.
Fans of both teams, expect nothing less than a shoot-out.