Welp, we’re halfway through the 2018 season – and for Cincy fans, things ain’t looking too bad.
The team stands at 5-3, including a win against AFC North foe Baltimore. That’s the best start since going 8-0 in 2015 (which feels like a helluva lot longer than three years ago). They are 3-0 against the teams with whom they are in wild-card contention (Ravens, Dolphins and Colts). Five remaining games are against teams with losing records.
If the receiving corps can hold together until A.J. Green gets back from a foot injury, and the offensive line continues to gel, and Vontaze Burfict quits playing like he’s trying out for the Cleveland Browns, a postseason trip could very well be in the cards.
By the way … some of those players we just mentioned? They deserve mid-season mentions for their accomplishments. Or lack thereof.
Cincinnati Bengals Mid-season Awards
MVP – Andy Dalton: Halfway through the year, Dalton has thrown for 2,102 yards and 17 touchdowns. The latter of those is tied for eighth in the NFL with Tom Brady and Ryan Fitzpatrick. We’re not saying we’d take him over Tom Brady at this point … wait, yes we are.
Surprise player – Trey Hopkins. Offensive guard Trey Hopkins had to show hustle to move up from the practice squad in late 2016. He had to show it even more to earn 12 starts in 2017. Through the first half of this year, he has shown us – and all Cincinnati Bengals fans – that he’s the real deal. Didn’t see that coming.
Rookie MVP – Jessie Bates. Now this is the way to make a first impression. Rookie free safety JB has racked up 60 tackles this year, defended four passes, picked off three others, and scored a touchdown. The last time a Bates was this scary, he was stabbing Janet Leigh in the shower (kids, ask your parents).
Most improved player – Tyler Boyd. Boyd has produced three 100-yard games this year and almost got a fourth against the Ravens in Week Two. His five TDs this year are already more than his first two seasons combined. With 620 receiving yards so far, Boyd is easily on pace to break the 1,000-yard mark in 2018. Now if we can only get John Ross to do that …
Most disappointed in – Vontaze Burfict. Vontaze browned the bed by getting suspended for the first four games of the year for using PEDs. He’s only tallied 17 tackles so far and the Cincinnati Bengals’ defense has fed off that, which puts them on par with the worst Ds in the league. They are 30th in total yards allowed, 25th in rushing yards allowed, and 19th in sacks. Granted, they are tied for sixth with 10 interceptions, so we’ll throw ’em a bone there.