This time, it was another chapter in the Justin Herbert vs. Joe Burrow story. Herbert came out on top despite Burrow leading a comeback from down 24-22. A third-quarter Joe Mixon fumble took the life out of the Bengals.
Burrow’s injured pinky and Logan Wilson’s game-ending injury didn’t help much either. With that in mind, the Bengals couldn’t stop Los Angeles receivers, and they went on to score 41 as a team.
The Bengals have dropped to 7-5. That said, let’s dive into how the loss reflects their power rankings position following Week 13.
ESPN — No. 11 - Down from No. 9
In November, Bates said his contract season hasn’t been as good as he wanted it to be. After Pro Football Focus graded Bates as the NFL’s top safety in 2020, Bates hasn’t been able to carry that production into 2021. Some of that can be chalked up to the stalled contract negotiations that cast a cloud over Bates at the start of the season. While he has had some good moments, Bates still has plenty of work to do in order to prove he is worth being paid as one of the NFL’s best safeties. Of course, the Bengals using the franchise tag on him for 2022 is the most likely scenario. But in addition to potentially making himself some extra money, he could boost a Cincinnati defense that is suddenly lacking some key players during the final month of the season. — Ben Baby
Sporting News — No. 12 - Down from No. 10
The Bengals were sloppy at the worst time against the Chargers as they missed a chance to strengthen their playoff position by jumping the Ravens in the AFC North. They still profile as a playoff team with Burrow but the hard finishing schedule is a huge obstacle.
Yahoo! Sports — No. 13 - Down from No. 10
The Ravens’ failed two-point conversion was great news for the Bengals. Their bad loss to the Chargers doesn’t help them, but at least they’re still just one game back in the AFC North. What’s more troubling might be Joe Burrow’s injured right pinkie finger, which presumably won’t be fun to play through.
The Ringer — No. 15
NBC Sports — No. 11
Every time I praise the Bengals, they turn around and throw up on themselves the next week. Should have seen Sunday’s loss to the Chargers coming.
NFL.com — No. 11 - Down from No. 7
The Bengals had a chance for their first three-game winning streak of the season ... and fell on their faces. Hosting the Chargers in front of a fired-up crowd at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincy surrendered the game’s first 24 points, mounted a comeback to cut the deficit to 2, then watched a rare Joe Mixon fumble kick-start a final Bolts surge in a 41-22 loss. Injuries are also a concern. Joe Burrow gutted his way through the game after suffering a dislocated pinkie in the first quarter, while starting cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and linebacker Logan Wilson were both knocked out the game with ailments. The AFC North remains there for the taking ... but you never know which version of the Bengals is going to show up.
CBS Sports — No. 12 - Down from No. 10
They fell way behind against the Chargers, which was too much to overcome. They did a bad job protecting Joe Burrow.