The New Orleans Saints enter their Week 6 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals at 2-3, as does their opponent. After getting their first win since Week 1, the Saints look to continue their offensive success against the Bengals, specifically in the rushing game, after Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill each had career days on the field. In this article, I will be discussing how the Saints’ and Bengals’ units have performed so far this season in rush offense and defense respectively, and then what we should expect from these two units in their matchup this week.
How have these units performed so far this season?
The Saints’ rushing offense has been spurred on by a quality performance from the offensive line in the run game. While that does not necessarily translate to pass protection all the time, it bodes well for the run game in week 6. The Saints rank top 10 in most major rushing categories this season, at 10th in rushing yards (681), tied for 9th in yards per carry (5.0), tied for 3rd in rushing touchdowns (7 - primarily spurred forward by 3 from Taysom last week), 11th in rushing first downs (37), and are tied for 12th in rushing attempts (136).
In terms of the Bengals’ rushing defense, it has been streaky, many of the stats lean towards the notion that the Bengals see very few rush attempts but allowing high rates of efficiency to opposing rushers. They are tied for the 8th least rushing attempts seen by any team, allowing the 7th lowest rush yards total (498), are tied for the 12th least rushing first downs allowed (31) and are tied for the least number of rushing touchdowns allowed (1). However, they have allowed the 12th-highest rushing first-down percentage (26%) which shows that they have not seen a lot of rushing downs come their way yet. A good unit, nonetheless, but the statistics are somewhat skewed due to the low rush attempts against them.
What should we expect from these units in Week 6?
The Saints’ offense is going to have to be heavily predicated on the run game this Sunday simply put. That is not to say that it will be solely rushing, but with how efficient the Bengals have been in their pass defense, the Saints will need to rely on Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill to get the ball rolling. These two units have been at, or above league average this season so far in most general metrics and have really stepped up in their most recent games, with the Bengals holding Lamar Jackson to 58 yards on 12 attempts and not allowing any rushing touchdowns in their game against the Baltimore Ravens.
This will be a battle of attrition, and who is going to wear out quicker, the Saints’ OL or the Bengals’ DL? All-in-all, this should be a good game for Kamara, regardless of efficiency he will likely be getting his 20+ touch workload this weekend, provided the Saints keep up early on and are not forced to mount a comeback. If the efficiency also follows suit, which it has so far for Kamara with 4.3 YPC this season, you can expect an even bigger game in the yards department. We will see on Sunday which side of the trenches lasts throughout the game.