According to CBS San Francisco sports director Dennis O’Donnell, the Bengals are “…one of the worst… the worst team in the NFL defensively, almost there offensively.” The Bengals indeed give up a league-leading 430.9 yards a game, along with a terrible 6.4 yards per play. They also allow a dreadful 26.6 points per game, which, given the depths to which some teams have sunk, barely puts them among the top-10 worst.
The offense, behind Dalton, can pick up yards, at least through the air. The team’s 252.1 yards passing per game is 12th in the NFL. They just can’t run the ball; their 53.1 rushing yards per game and 2.9 yards per carry put them dead last in the league. And, frankly, they struggle to score too. Still, they somehow manage to stay in games, with four of their losses by less than a touchdown.
These are tough times for Bengals rookie coach Zac Taylor, who was the Rams’ quarterbacks coach last season. He probably has some insight into how to play Rams quarterback Jared Goff, but that won’t be enough to best his old boss Sean McVay and his previous team.
The Rams defense seems rejuvenated with the signing of cornerback Jalen Ramsey from the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. His presence was felt immediately against the Falcons. Better coverage in the defensive backfield created problems for Ryan, who threw an interception and was sacked five times. Devonta Freeman and the Falcons’ running game, which didn’t even top 40 yards, was never a threat. Dante Fowler had a field day; Aaron Donald was his usual disruptive self. Look for more of the same against the Bengals.
Goff, aside from a stinker against the San Francisco 49ers, has been a productive passer all season. And the Rams offense should be able to move the ball at will this week. The Bengals’ defense allowed Leonard Fournette and Lamar Jackson to gain 100-plus yards on the ground the last two weeks. And while Goff isn’t the running threat that Jackson is from the quarterback position, Todd Gurley is certainly due for a big day.
“This is not going to be the week that Cincinnati breaks through in the win column,” says O’Donnell. (That day will probably come in December, when the Bengals face the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins.) These Rams, even with recent issues and uneven performances, should roll again over an inferior opponent and keep pace with the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West.
The Rams play the Bengals Sunday @ 10 a.m. PT on CBS.