The Cincinnati Bengals and the Atlanta Falcons are both 3-3. The difference is, one is off to a disappointing start while the other is one of the best stories in the league so far.
The Falcons already have 991 yards on the ground, and they’re averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Like last year, the rushing attack is spearheaded by Cordarrelle Patterson. However, Atlanta has another three players with over 150 yards, one of them being journeyman quarterback Marcus Mariota, who’s having maybe his best season since 2016.
The NFL's run-heaviest offense is no longer the Bears.— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) October 17, 2022
The Falcons have called pass a league-low 48% of the time this season.
Chicago is second at 52%.
Meanwhile, the Bengals just gave up 228 yards and 6.7 yards per carry to the New Orleans Saints. The team is sorely missing the big presence of D.J. Reader in the middle.
All this may be why Joe Burrow was moved to say that the next three weeks will determine how the Bengals’ season goes. It seems to have been a message to the team that they need to maintain a high level of intensity against an opponent that, at the start of the season, wasn’t taken very seriously.
“This next three-game stretch will determine how our season goes.” — Joe Burrow #Bengals play the Falcons, Browns, and Panthers before the BYE. pic.twitter.com/hw9nUavZvW— Cincinnati (@CincyProblems) October 19, 2022
The star QB also had this to say about Atlanta’s defense:
“They like to mix up their coverages. They seem to have really good players who a lot of different things. So we’ll see what their plan is against us.”
One thing we can certainly expect is for the Bengals to operate out of shotgun often, like they did against the Saints. Not only did Burrow have his best game of the season, but the offensive line and Joe Mixon seem to have finally got on track. And being able to counter the Falcons’ ground game with a similarly successful one will be a big advantage.
“The Bengals are 16th in EPA per rush out of shotgun (-0.06) compared to 31st in EPA per rush (-0.23) under center. Atlanta is 29th in the league in YPC allowed (5.97) to runs out of shotgun.”— Taylor (@_TaylorCornell) October 19, 2022
This week’s game plan should look a lot like last week. https://t.co/4uxQryXleI
how cincinnati's shift in scheme after week 4 has boosted joe mixon compared to 28 other running backs with 10 carries per game. pic.twitter.com/2EekqkfSiA— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) October 18, 2022
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