Covering the impact of coronavirus on the sports world
Just go ahead and admit it. You didn’t think the Cincinnati Bengals were legit after their 4-2 start.
Sure, they looked much improved on defense. Yes, the Joe Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase passing combination was off to a good start. The offensive line was better and Joe Mixon could run the ball.
But you still didn’t believe, did you? After all, they were the Bengals.
You sure believe now.
By going into Baltimore and winning, the Bengals would have made believers out of many. By going into Baltimore and beating the Ravens 41-17 Sunday, they should see a bunch of folks jumping on the bandwagon.
The Bengals are legitimate. One more thing: If the playoffs started today — I know you hate that phrase — the Bengals would be the top seed in the AFC playoffs, which is not something many expected to say seven games into the regular season.
It was that other team in Ohio, the Cleveland Browns, who most expected to be the team leading the division, or even the Ravens. But at 5-2, it’s the Bengals who are in first, which has them up to No. 7 in my Power Rankings this week.
Craving even more NFL coverage focusing on previews, recaps, news and analysis? Listen below and follow the Pick Six podcast for a daily dose of everything you need to follow pro football.
Winning is one thing, but it’s the way they did it that has opened a lot of eyes. Burrow threw for a career-best 416 yards and three touchdowns. He’s the only quarterback to throw for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns against the Ravens in Baltimore. Chase had eight catches for 201 yards and a touchdown and made the Baltimore secondary look silly at times.
But it’s the defense that shouldn’t’ be overlooked. It sacked Lamar Jackson five times and hit him a bunch more in beating him for the first time in six tries. The Bengals spent money this off-season to improve the defense, and so far it’s working. They have 19 sacks on the season with many of those players having a major impact on that number with free agent signee Trey Hendrickson leading the team with 5.5 sacks.
When Burrow was drafted in April 2020, I said on our broadcast that night that the Bengals would win at least one Super Bowl in the next 10 years. That’s what I thought of him as a quarterback.
That timetable, after his knee injury last season, seemed to be pushed back a year or two. But seven games into this season, it’s back on track. And this season has a playoff look to it so far.
The Bengals still have two games with the Browns, one more each with the Ravens and Steelers, but three of the four will be at home. The Bengals are the favorites in the division right now.
Can you believe it? You had better.
© 2004-2022 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.
CBS Sports is a registered trademark of CBS Broadcasting Inc. Commissioner.com is a registered trademark of CBS Interactive Inc.
Images by Getty Images and US Presswire