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What We Learned: Bengals vs Jaguars

It wasn't pretty, but it was a win. And at the half way point, the Bengals sit alone atop the AFC North.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

At the half way point the Bengals are in first place

It has not been a pretty first half, but after eight games, the Bengals sit alone at the top of the AFC North at 5-2-1 and I will take it. Talk to many Bengals fans and it seems as though this team is in last place, the season hasn't been "pretty enough." Sunday was a microcosm of the season. Not pretty. Nothing to get excited about, but another mark landed in the "W" column.

Jeremy Hill proved why Hue Jackson needs to make him a bigger part of the offense

The Bengals drafted Hill in the second round because he is a very good running back and could carry the load as a top back. At times, it has seemed Hue Jackson was not aware of this. Sunday, Hill got a chance to show exactly what he can do and exactly why he needs to carry the ball more, even when Giovani Bernard is healthy.

AJ Green is not "A.J. Green" yet

It was great to see number 18 out there again and his presence on the field makes the offense better. However, he only played about 50 percent of the plays and it was clear that he is not 100 percent healthy and is not the "A.J. Green" we have come to know. With that being said, A.J. Green at less than 100 percent is still very good.

Geno Atkins is starting to look like "Geno Atkins"

Last week Atkins earned his first sack of the season, and for the first time since tearing his ACL in Miami, Atkins looked like the "Geno Atkins" we know. That continued this Sunday when Atkins posted six tackles - one for a loss - and one pass defensed. In the first six games, Atkins had a total of eight tackles, three solo tackles and a half sack. During the last two weeks, Atkins has 10 tackles, eight solo tackles and one sack.

Bengals fans should be worried about Thursday

The Browns got pounded by the Jaguars a few weeks ago and struggled with the Buccaneers on Sunday, but make no mistake, they are a formidable opponent. The Bengals may be 2-0 in their last two games, but they have struggled during both games, and with a short week, combined with the ever-crowded trainer's room at PBS, Thursday's game has to be worrisome, even to the most optimistic Bengals fan.

The run defense is still porous

The Bengals came into the game tied for 28th giving up 4.8 YPA...and managed to get worse. On Sunday, the Jaguars collected 132 yards on the ground and did so at 5.3 YPA. While injuries are a factor here, at some point, the Bengals need to stop the run, regardless of who is - or isn't - playing. Part of Sunday's problem was poor tackling and that can't be blamed on injuries.

Andy Dalton needs to play better

For only the third time this season, Dalton threw for multiple touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions, both of which were poor throws. The first, Dalton had Sanu wide open for a big gain that would have put the Bengals in field goal range, but Dalton drastically underthrew him. The second pick was the "Bad Andy" fourth quarter turnover that could have cost the Bengals the game. With a 10 point lead and less than 10 minutes remaining, the only thing that could really hurt the Bengals chances of a victory was a turnover...and Dalton delivered.  On third and eight from their own 25, Dalton tried an ill-advised screen pass to Rex Burkhead. Dalton's pass was so poor, it bounced off Andrew Whitworth's helmet and into a Jaguars player's hands. Two plays later, Denard Robinson took it in for a touchdown, cutting the Bengals lead to just three with about nine minutes to go.

Andy Dalton gets no credit for wins and good plays - takes all the blame for losses and bad plays

Despite his bad interceptions, Andy Dalton also had some really good throws on Sunday, none better than the third and 9 deep ball he hit Mohamed Sanu with mid-way through the second quarter to set up Mike Nugent's first field goal of the day. In typical fashion, the guys behind me at the game couldn't give Dalton credit for the perfectly placed throw - according to them it was a great play by Sanu.

The Bengals should have had five interceptions

Blake Bortles has started the holidays early and has handed out 13 interceptions in his seven games. While the Bengals got one on Sunday, if the Bengals defenders weren't busy channeling their inner Daniel Coates, they would have had four more - maybe even giving Bortles his fifth pick six of the year.

Denard Robinson is a legit NFL running back

I always like seeing when a star college quarterback makes a successful transition to another position, and Denard Robinson looks to have done just that. While Robinson came up six yards shy of notching his third consecutive 100 yard game, he did gash the Bengals defense for a 5.5 yard average, including a nice 39 yard run.