It hasn't quite turned out the way expected, but Bengals running backs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill continue to rank among the NFL's best rushing tandems.
Bernard and Hill combined for 1,251 yards rushing through the first 13 games, an average of 96.2 per game. Bernard has rushed for 647 yards. Hill has run for 604. They are the only duo in the league, each with at least 600 yards rushing. Hill had over 1,100 last season, bettering Bernard, who missed three games due to injury.
To be considered for this mythical "best rushing duo" a team through 14 weeks must have a rushing leader with at least 500 yards (38.4 per game) and a second rusher with at least 200 yards, and both have to be running backs (a separate look at rushing tandem leaders regardless of position is below).
The NFL's leading backfield rushing tandem, entering Week 14, is resurgent Doug Martin (1,214) and steady Charles Sims (419) with 1,633 yards for Tampa Bay, an average of 125.6 per game (they added 144 yards between them Thursday against St. Louis pushing their total to 1,777, and their average to 127).
Coming into the week, the Buccaneers duo had been by far the most productive, with a 304-yard lead over the second-place group, Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams, who've combined for 1,329 yards. One big difference there: The Bucs' tandem is healthy. The Steelers' duo never was a tandem -- it was one back or the other, depending on Bell's playing status. The injured Bell is out for the season.
Bernard and Hill are the league's best healthy backfield rushing tandem, behind the Bucs' backs, and they are poised to pass Pittsburgh as the AFC's best, regardless of health.
Seattle's Thomas Rawls and Marshawn Lynch (1,247), Buffalo's LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams (1,242) and Atlanta's Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman (1,220) round out the top six, but those duos have been less of a tandem and more a product of injury to the lead back.
Denver's Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson (1,201) represent a situation similar to the Bengals' where Anderson, like Hill, hasn't rushed as expected, creating a time-share for two generally healthy running backs. The Broncos' backs are the seventh-most productive rushing duo in the league.
Rounding out the top 10 are Green Bay's Eddie Lacy and James Starks (1,156), the New York Jets' Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell (1,146) and Arizona's Chris Johnson and David Johnson (1,144).
Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart and quarterback Cam Newton (1,469) represent the league's second-most productive rushing tandem, regardless of position. Surprisingly, the St. Louis duo of running back Todd Gurley and wide receiver Tavon Austin (1,333) is the third-most productive, regardless of position; the Seahawks duo of Rawls and quarterback Russell Wilson (1,286) is fifth.