The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Running the Numbers: Bengals’ Offensive Tendencies

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My latest ‘Running the Numbers’ article is a look at the Bengals’ offensive tendencies.

45.2: Bengals’ first down pass rate.

The typical NFL team passes the ball 47.9 percent of the time on first down, so Cincinnati is a bit more run-heavy than the average offense with a new set of chains. Defenses may have caught on since the Bengals have totaled only 3.15 yards per carry (YPC) on first down in 2012. Even over the past three weeks, when the Bengals have really gotten their running game going, they’ve averaged only 3.06 YPC on first down. Compare that to 7.5 yards per attempt (YPA) and a 101.6 passer rating on first down for Andy Dalton this season.

The Bengals’ run-heavy philosophy on early downs is a major reason they have a low first down conversion rate. They’ve converted only 17.9 percent of their first downs, compared to a league average of 20.9 percent. The running game has helped Cincinnati set up manageable third downs; they’re average distance-to-go on third down (6.27 yards) is nearly a full yard superior to the league average.

Nonetheless, the Bengals would probably be a more potent offense if they sought more upside on first down. Sure, their third downs might become less “manageable,” but they’d also see fewer of them, meaning their overall offensive efficiency would improve. Plus, it isn’t like the Bengals are converting on a whole lot of third downs anyway; their 36.0 percent conversion rate is three percentage points below the league average. For the record, the Cowboys own one of the league’s best third down conversion rates at 43.1 percent.

Check out the entire article at DallasCowboys.com.

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