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MUST KNOW: Winners and Losers From Cincinnati Bengals’ Blowout Win Over Carolina Panthers.

The Cincinnati Bengals’ rollercoaster season continued on Sunday with a dominant victory.

Fresh off of the worst defeat of the season, the Bengals had the perfect get-right game against a Panthers team that looked helpless against them. 

Here are five takeaways from their dominant victory over Carolina

What a game from Joe Mixon. He ran strong, with burst, was breaking tackles, and punishing the defense. He ran for 153 yards and four touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 58 yards and another. He did most of his damage in the first half where he scored four touchdowns.

At halftime, the score was 35-to-0 so he didn’t play much in the second half. The 208 combined yardage is the most yards that Mixon has ever had in a game. His previous high was 186 against the Browns. Obviously, the five touchdowns are also a career-high for Mixon.

His 7-yards per carry is the second most that he has ever had in a game. Considering the efficiency, volume, and receiving work, this is clearly the best game of Mixon’s career. He added 0.51 EPA per play on the ground and 1.24 EPA per play through the air as well. The NFL’s best run game, the Cleveland Browns, averages about 0.1 EPA per play.

Mixon today was about 5 times as effective as the Browns rushing attack. Since the schematic change in the run game against Baltimore, Joe Mixon is above 5 yards per carry. The run game is once again effective and it could not come at a better time with Ja’Marr Chase sidelined with a hip injury.

Other than a spectacular 41-yard touchdown catch, the Bengals only got eight yards out of Tee Higgins against the Browns last week. He was more effectively utilized against the Panthers.

Higgins caught seven passes for 60 yards almost entirely in the first half of this game. He was pulled after the first drive of the third quarter. Considering the small amount of time on the field, this was a very good game for the third-year wide receiver. The way the Bengals used him in this game was through isolation concepts. Higgins would start on the outside and then break either back or to the outside after pushing vertically.

The Panthers do not run much Cover 2, preferring quarters or Cover 3 as a defense. In both of these coverages, the cornerback against Higgins is going to essentially be one-on-one with him. The Bengals used that to their advantage and repeatedly attacked the outside with him. Higgins brought down all but one of his targets for an efficient and effective game. The utilization of Higgins will be key in the games moving forward without Chase.

An Inspired Defense

Katie Stratman, USA Today Sports

When the game mattered in the first half, the Bengals came away with 3 turnovers and pitched a shut-out on defense. In garbage time, the Panthers managed to score some points, but all things considered, this was a stellar performance from the defensive unit. Despite the injuries to stud cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton, the pass defense only gave up 9 yards in the first half and outgained them in interception yardage with 19 yards.

Despite the injury to all-star defensive tackle DJ Reader, the Panthers only managed 64 yards on the ground on less than 4-yards per carry with a long run of seven yards. The theme here is that this defense was able to rise up to the occasion despite a myriad of injuries. As has been the case over the past two years, defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo is able to get the best of his defense. He places them in a position to succeed and they once again rose to the occasion.

The Offensive Line Paves The Way

While Mixon deserves a ton of credit for his career game on the ground, the offensive line paved the way for him. They were mauling the defense with every concept under the sun. Plenty of power/gap run plays with linemen pulling across the formation, but there was still a mixture of zone running as well. No matter what they did, it was effective. Rather than forcing Mixon to break tackles on linebackers and defensive linemen, the offensive line blocked those guys so Mixon got to take on corners and safeties.

This group has gotten quite a bit of criticism, so they deserve their flowers when nearly everything goes right. Anytime the running game averages 7 yards per carry, the lineman had a good day.

Playoff Watch

Katie Stratman, USA Today Sports

According to FiveThirtyEight’s model, the Cincinnati Bengals have about a 50% chance to make the playoffs. This puts them in an eerily similar spot to last year where they were 5-4 after nine games. After the victory over the Raiders in week 11, the Bengals had about a 50% chance to make the playoffs according to the same model. While the circumstances are different this year with the injuries that the Bengals are dealing with, the blueprint is still the same.

Finish strong despite a tough schedule and go week by week in the playoffs. Last year, the Bengals went 5-3 during the back half of their schedule to finish 10-7 and win the division. This included wins over three different postseason teams. No way around it, the rest of the schedule is going to be tough for the Bengals, but if they can get to 10 wins again, then they should make the playoffs. Even if that does not come with winning the division, they showed last year that they can travel to the 1 seed and 2 seed’s home turf and come away with the win. It’s one week at a time, but the Bengals are not in a bad spot going into the second half of the season

Dasmani B Mohammed

Greatness await 🙏🔥
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