Sep 222012

The Bengals have been one of the worst teams in the NFL through two games, getting blown out in Baltimore against an overrated Ravens team that has uncharacteristically surrendered 808 yards in 2 games and then barely beating the terrible Browns in Cincinnati. They rank 31st in the NFL in yards per play differential.

A lot of their issues have been on the defensive side of the ball. They rank dead last in the NFL in yards per play allowed, 31st in yards per carry allowed, and 29th in yards per attempt allowed despite not battling the toughest group of quarterbacks. Those two are a combined 34 of 77 for 325 yards, 1 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions in their other games. Part of that has to do with their competition’s competition. Both Weeden and Flacco have also faced Philadelphia, one of the league best defenses, but Cincinnati has really done a poor job in pass coverage this year.

The biggest issue defensively for the Bengals has been injuries. They are without two key cornerbacks, free agent acquisition Jason Allen and rookie Dre Kirkpatrick. This has forced washed up veterans like Nate Clements and Terence Newman to see a ton of action in the secondary, next to a still not 100% Leon Hall. Hall is just 10 months removed from an Achilles tear and has been uncharacteristically torched in 2 games thus far, surrendering 10 completions for 143 yards and a touchdown on 14 attempts. They’ve also been without top pass rusher Carlos Dunlap.

The good news for the Bengals is that Dunlap and Allen will be back this week. The bad news is that Kirkpatrick is expected to be out until late October. They also lost every down linebacker Thomas Howard for a season with a torn ACL and could struggle to fill that hole. This week, they face a very tough Washington offense that even a solid St. Louis defense couldn’t do much to slow. This is their toughest test so far so even though they’re healthier than they’ve been, they could still get torched. It’ll be up to Andy Dalton and the offense to keep pace against a banged up Washington defense.

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