- Coley Harvey, ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter
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A weekly look at what the Cincinnati Bengals must fix:
It's starting to reach broken-record status on this one, but the most glaring issue the Bengals continue to have is the one pertaining to a lackluster rush defense. Ahead of Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Bengals must finally start addressing the problems they have had stopping opposing ball carriers. It would be beyond troubling if this trend continues against the NFL's 25th-ranked rushing offense.
In the past five games, in particular, the Bengals have had trouble keeping opposing teams to under 100 yards rushing. The Ravens kept that streak alive when they collected 107 yards on the ground in Cincinnati's 27-24 win. The two-man tandem of Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro sparked Baltimore's productive day on the ground. Forsett rushed 17 times for 68 yards. Taliaferro had only 27 yards on seven carries, but he had a pair of rushing touchdowns near the Bengals' goal line. Twice he sprinted through holes barely touched for easy 8- and 10-yard scores.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Cincinnati is tied with five teams for the third-highest number of rushing touchdowns allowed this season at eight. All eight of the rushing scores the Bengals have allowed have come inside the red zone. Only the Falcons, at 13, have allowed more rushing scores inside their own 20.
Since their Week 3 win against Tennessee, the Bengals have allowed an average of 158.8 yards per game on the ground. Across that same stretch, the league has allowed an average of 110.3 yards per game.
Perhaps the Bengals will get a break this week, though. They should get one of their top run-stopping defensive linemen back when reserve tackle Brandon Thompson returns from a knee injury that has kept him out since Week 2. The Bengals also are facing a Jaguars offense that, paced by Denard Robinson, is averaging just 97.3 yards per game on the ground entering this week's game. Again, if the Bengals struggle with them, it could be a sign that their rushing defense has very grave issues.
A weekly look at what the Cincinnati Bengals must fix following its Week 8 win against Baltimore.