Sunday was just what the doctor ordered for a Bengals team in desperate need of a win.
Their 32-14 shellacking of the Eagles was one of the most lopsided games of Week 13 as Cincinnati looked every bit like the team that made five-straight playoff trips. Here are some additional thoughts from what was a fun game in Paul Brown Stadium.
1) A Great Win
The Eagles are no juggernaut, but they’re better than their 5-7 record suggests. They lost on a late fumble at 8-4 Detroit, lost in overtime at 11-1 Dallas, lost by five at the 8-4 Giants, and lost by seven at 6-5-1 Washington.
They also thrashed the 5-7 Steelers are home by 30 while beating the playoff-hopeful Falcons and Vikings as well. This is a good Eagles team that could very easily be holding a playoff spot right now, and the Bengals just whipped them in every facet of the game.
On paper, this looks like one losing team whipping another losing team, but in reality, this was a Bengals team full of potential showcasing such against a quality opponent.
2) Bengals Offensive Line is Still Bad
The Bengals’ offensive line got a lot of praise for not allowing a sack against the Eagles, a very impressive feat against a defense that came into Week 13 with 26 sacks, one of the league’s highest marks.
However, that’s overshadowed by how bad the line as in run-blocking. The Bengals finished with 31 runs for 71 yards and one score by running backs. That’s enough for a 2.3 average, a pathetic mark for any NFL team against any defense.
It’s great to see the pass-blocking is improving, but then again, when you have a quarterback with one of the quickest releases in the NFL, that should never be as big of an issue as it has been this season.
This line has a lot of issues that need to be worked out before this team is going to become a playoff contender again.
3) Hill Not Helping
While the offensive line has to get more push, Jeremy Hill has to find a way to get more than 33 yards on 23 carries. That’s a horrific line that just reinforces the belief that his biggest moments in 2014-15 were more a product of a great offensive line and not a result of his own talents.
There will be some talented running backs available in the 2017 NFL Draft. With Hill entering a contract year in 2017 along with Giovani Bernard recovering from a torn ACL, perhaps the Bengals should target one of those talented backs in the draft, even early as Round 1.
4) Dre Kirkpatrick Stepping Up
It’s taken almost five years, but Dre Kirkpatrick finally looks like the first-round corner the Bengals hoped he’d become. Since being the 17th pick in the 2012 draft, Kirkpatrick has slowly improved each season to the point he’s now a strength for this defense instead of a liability.
He’s also making it very hard for the Bengals to re-sign him this offseason. Kirkpatrick will easily be one of the best defensive backs on the open market, and teams are willing to pay a premium on just ‘good’ corners.
Kirkpatrick still has his flaws, but he’s played great many times this season. Wherever he is next year, he’ll be getting a nice paycheck.
5) Future Still Bright
What we saw Sunday was a Bengals team dominating with a lot of young players who will be on the roster next year and for the foreseeable future. Andy Dalton, Vontaze Burfict, Geno Atkins, and Carlos Dunlap were probably the four best players on either team in this game, and all are signed through next year, at least.
That’s not even accounting for what a healthy A.J. Green brings to this team along with a healthy Tyler Eifert. Despite a lot of issues on the offensive line, this team has plenty of talent and the potential to be right back in the playoffs next year with a good offseason and draft.