The Cincinnati Bengals may have had no favors from the football gods recently what wit the number of injuries they have had to absorb to key players—missing A.J. Green, Vontaze Burfict, Nick Vigil, Tyler Kroft, and Darqueze Dennard for yesterday’s game—but that hardly accounts for a 51-14 defeat at home, even if it did come against the highest-scoring offense in the NFL.
The team chose to bring in a defensive coordinator from outside the staff this offseason in Teryl Austin. So far, his unit is on pace to set NFL records…in a bad way. At the moment, they are in line to give up the most yards (and yards per game) in NFL history, currently allowing an average of 454.6 yards per game, and 4091 in total, through nine games.
The NFL record was set by the team that just diced them up, the New Orleans Saints, who in 2012 allowed an astonishing 7042 yards, or 440.1 yards per game. The Bengals’ current pace has them allowing 7273 yards by the end of the season.
This comes on the heels of some truly awful defensive performances, during which they admittedly have mostly been without three or more starters. It started against the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Week Six, who put up 481 yards of offense against them.
Over the course of the three games that followed, they have allowed over 500 yards to each opponent, first 551 to the Kansas City Chiefs, then 576 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, before finally giving up a mere 509 yards to the Saints, which wasn’t even 10 yards per point.
The Bengals have only kept three of nine opponents below 400 yards of offense so far this season, and only one below 350. The Miami Dolphins have had the worst luck against Cincinnati so far, gaining just 297 yards.
297 yards used to be a lot to give up in a game. That is the best this Bengals team has done. For comparison, the Steelers have held four of their nine opponents to below 300 yards, including two below 250 yards, and all four of them gained only 275 yards or fewer. They haven’t allowed any 500-yard efforts, though three have put up over 400 yards. It’s worth noting that their two losses and their tie are among the four worst games they’ve had in terms of yardage allowed.
The only hope the Bengals have of offering any sort of turnaround this season is simply to get healthy. That now (again) includes cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who suffered a concussion in yesterday’s beating against the Saints.
The Steelers will face the Bengals again at Heinz Field in the season finale. What will they look like by then, and will the game mean anything for either team? They are trending in starkly opposite directions at the moment.