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Falcons offense vs. Bengals defense: Pound the rock and control the tempo

Bully ball is so much fun!

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

This Falcons offense has been a fun offense to watch up to this point. This is a very deliberate, run-first offense that wears defenses down as the game progresses. One thing to really appreciate about how Arthur Smith runs it is that he doesn’t care how highly the opposing defense is ranked against the run, or if they’re stacking the box to stop it. Teams know that this Falcons offense is going to run the ball, and very few have been able to do anything about it.

Coach Smith has been a genius at scheming runs through various personnel groupings and pre-snap motions, and it’s been a nightmare for the defenses that the Falcons have faced up to this point. From these personnel groupings and success in the running game, it’s also opened up opportunities for the short to intermediate passing game for Marcus Mariota.

No opposing team has really found a recipe for stopping this offense as of yet. Will the Bengals solve the riddle? Let’s see how this Falcons offense stacks up against the Bengals defense.

In the trenches

The Bengals front has some talent that shouldn’t be overlooked. A group that employs an even front in base and nickel packages, they have a pair of defensive ends that are beginning to make some noise this season in Sam Hubbard and 2021 Pro Bowler Trey Hendrickson. Inside, their best DT in D.J. Reader is on injured reserve, and is eligible to return after the Falcons game on Sunday, which is a big loss for Cincinnati against Atlanta. His backup in Josh Tupou also appears to be out a few weeks due to a calf injury. They also have B.J Hill as the other starting DT, and they look to lean on him heavily.

This Falcons offensive is becoming a group of bullies, and I’m here for it all. It’s easy to tell that this group loves playing with eachother, and they’ve gained a great level of chemistry on the field. They look to bruise bones and set tones in the running game to completely wear defenses down. Drew Dalman looks to have solved his initial snap issues and Kaleb McGary is easily having his best year at right tackle with free agency looming. While I like the matchup on the interior for the Falcons, Hendrickson and Hubbard could be an issue on the edge.

Advantage: Push

The Skill Positions

The injuries are starting to build up for the Bengals. MIKE linebacker Logan Wilson, the leader and signal caller of the defense, is questionable to play against the Falcons with a shoulder injury and is currently week to week. He’s definitely a playmaker for this defense, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on the injury reports as the week progresses. The back end of Cincinnati’s defense is led by one of my favorite safeties in the league in Jessie Bates III. Bates is a very fluid and smooth athlete with great instincts for the position, so Mariota must know where he is on the field at all times.

It’s no secret that I love what the Falcons bring at the skilled positions. Drake London has amazing ball skills and hands as a rookie, and he lives for the physicality of the game. Kyle Pitts finally got his first touchdown in Mercedes Benz stadium (took long enough), and this running attack been very productive despite not having Cordarrelle Patterson in the mix. MyCole Pruitt was also signed to the final 53, and he presents another solid blocker and passing option for Marcus Mariota. This group can certainly make some noise against the backend of the Bengals defense, especially if Wilson misses the game.

Advantage: Falcons


Given that this group gave up over 200 yards on the ground to the New Orleans Saints and are ranked in the bottom half of the league in rushing yards allowed, it’s a no brainer that Coach Smith is going to lean on the running game against this group on their turf. It will only help that the Bengals are dealing with injuries.

Given how quickly the Bengals offense can strike when on the field, the obvious approach for the Falcons from an offensive perspective is to run the ball, control the tempo, handily win the time of possession battle, and finish drives with touchdowns.

Marcus Mariota will be another key to how this game ultimately goes. If he can play mistake free ball and make plays when they’re there to make, then this Falcons offense can really take the game over and give the Bengals little time to make an impact. What I’ve learned about Coach Smith is that he will put his players in the position to make plays and succeed on the field. It’s how the players execute that will determine the outcome of the game in Cincinnatii.

Advantage: Falcons