The Cincinnati Bengals Are Major Threats

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Photo Cred: Bengals Twitter

This year is not going the way many thought it would. As we close in on the halfway point of the season, the AFC North is looking really interesting. Teams that many predicted to be playoff contenders are struggling, while teams that many thought to be basement dwellers are now contenders. The Panthers and Broncos got off to hot starts (both were 3-0) but have since cooled off (both are 3-4). After a 41-17 trouncing of the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7, the Cincinnati Bengals are the number one seed in the American Football Conference and are standing tall as the leader of the AFC North division as well. For the Bengals, it’s getting harder and harder to believe they are not the real deal!

If anyone asked who would be in first place in the AFC after Week 7, the answer would overwhelmingly not be Cincinnati, but here we are with the Bengals at 5-2! The performance of second-year quarterback Joe Burrow has been Pro Bowl level thus far. Last year, Burrow showed flashes of stardom, and this offseason was all about protecting Burrow as he returned from a surgically repaired knee. Seven weeks in, the former Heisman winner is hitting his stride. Along with his former college teammate, WR Ja’Marr Chase, they have put the league on notice.

https://www.cincyjungle.com/2021/10/1/22704430/joe-burrow-cj-uzomah-zac-taylor-recap-jags-bengals-2021-joey-franchise

Cincinnati’s offensive tempo has ramped up lately. The Bengals unleashed their best attack in a 41-17 blowout of the Ravens. Burrow went 23 of 38 passes for 416 yards with three touchdowns and just one pick. The accuracy could be better, but the big plays were open all day as they have been throughout the season (20 passing plays of 25 yards or more so far).

In the preseason, Chase had a case of the drops, which prompted some doubt about whether he would be a good receiver or not and also whether the Bengals messed up by not drafting T Penei Sewell instead. However, those drops are no more, as Chase has become a game-changer for the Bengals. He’s on pace to break the rookie record in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. The playmaker racked up eight catches for 201 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens. Chase ranks second in the NFL with 754 receiving yards, which is the most for any receiver through his first seven games.

Photo Cred: Sam Greene (Imagn Content Services)

On the defensive side, the team has also stepped up its efforts. The team isn’t the same old defense that got blown out 38-3 last year against the Ravens. DC Lou Anarumo’s defensive unit generated pressure and held Baltimore to only 10 points in the first half. It’s shaping up to be the Bengals’ best defense in a decade. The defense hasn’t been this good since former DC Mike Zimmer led them to four top-10 finishes. Last season, the Bengals only averaged 1.1 sacks per game, the fewest in the NFL. The addition of DT Larry Ogunjobi and DE Trey Hendrickson has helped change everything for the d-line, and now they’ve tied for the 10th most sacks ( 2.3 per game). The Bengals defense has found its identity and the team is turning a corner. These are not yesterday’s Bengals. Today’s Bengals are for real!

Sources

  1. https://www.espn.com/nfl/game/_/gameId/401326316
  2. https://www.espn.com/nfl/game/_/gameId/401326129
  3. https://www.espn.com/nfl/game/_/gameId/401326371
  4. https://www.espn.com/nfl/game/_/gameId/401326379
  5. https://www.espn.com/nfl/game/_/gameId/401326397
  6. https://www.espn.com/nfl/game/_/gameId/401326414
  7. https://www.espn.com/nfl/game/_/gameId/401326424

 

Edited By: Rupayan “Abs” Samanta.

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