The Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) defeated the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday 41-17 in a blowout road win to take 1st place in the AFC North and secure the current #1 seed in the AFC. Little to nobody had picked the Bengals to beat the Ravens, but many still knew its importance for Cincinnati to show that they can hang with the top teams in the division and the conference, and the Bengals did more than that.
They proved they are one of the best teams in the conference and the league this season. Joe Burrow threw for 416 yards and three touchdowns. He made throw after throw. Ja’Marr Chase continued his historic rookie campaign, hauling in over 200 receiving yards and added another long touchdown that went for 82 yards in the third quarter. Chase now has 754 receiving yards on the season, which is currently 2nd in the entire NFL behind only Cooper Kupp.
One thing the team has that they haven’t had in the past is consistent play on both sides of the ball. Yes, the offense is firing on all cylinders led by Burrow, Chase, Higgins, Boyd, Mixon, Uzomah, and an offensive line that is exceeding expectations.
But the defense has been one of the best in the NFL this year, specifically the defensive line and the front seven. Against Baltimore, they sacked Lamar Jackson five times which is the most in Jackson’s career. The high spending this off-season is paying off. The additions of Trey Hendrickson, Larry Ogunjobi, D.J. Reader, and players like Vonn Bell and Mike Hilton have added a great deal of success to Lou Anarumo’s defense. Logan Wilson has progressed in year two into one of the best linebackers in football. Chidobe Awuzie has come in and been exactly what the Bengals needed in a CB1 for the secondary that Jessie Bates leads.
There’s a lot of football left, and you don’t want to get ahead of yourself, which Zac Taylor stressed. Just take it week by week and try and beat the opponent in front of you. But the Bengals proved a lot of people wrong this Sunday. They showed the media and the rest of the NFL that this team has arrived, and they aren’t going anywhere. They’re not coming for a wild card spot. They are out to gun for the division and the conference.
The next few weeks will show a lot more about what this team’s about, especially after their bye week in Week 10. The Bengals play the Jets this week and then the Browns the following week. Cincinnati has a great chance to put themselves in the driver’s seat going into their bye week if they can handle their business this week and get another division win against Cleveland. The Cincinnati Bengals are exactly who Bengals nation thought they were and who the media didn’t.