Aug 28, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) against the Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
The final numbers say that the Cincinnati Bengals’ run defense got shredded by the New England Patriots last Sunday: 220 yards on 46 carries. To be sure, it was an ugly performance for Cincinnati, but there are at least three reasons to think that he run defense will be markedly improved today against the Carolina Panthers.
Last Week Wasn’t As Bad As It Looked
As Coley Harvey points out on his Bengals blog at ESPN.com, Cincy got torched on six rushing plays (18 yards per carry) but did fine on the other 40 runs from scrimmage (2.7 ypc). That’s an awful lot of carries, and an awful lot of carries that went for not much, which points to the Pats having found a weakness and attempting to exploit it again and again. A major part of the problem was that the Bengals had trouble getting their plays together quickly, which should improve because …
Vontaze Burfict Should Return Today
After two weeks out recovering from a second concussion, linebacker Vontaze Burfict is expected to return to action today. Assuming that he is healthy, Burfict is one of the best players in the game and instantly upgrades the Bengals’ D, especially against the run. He knows the defensive scheme cold, so play-calling should not be much of an issue.
The Panthers Are Not A Good Running Team
Even if the Burfict doesn’t make it back to the field for some reason, the Bengals should have a much easier time against the run today, as the Panthers rank 30th n the NFL with just 74.8 rushing yards per game. Aging DeAngelo Williams is the team’s leading rusher with 104 yard on 25 carries, and even dangerous QB Cam Newton is down to 42 yards on 14 carries.
No game in the NFL is a gimme, and the Panthers are a strong team capable of beating the Bengals and most other teams. The Cincinnati run defense, though, could get healthy in a hurry this afternoon.