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NFL Week 18 Power Rankings: Are the Bengals a top-5 team?

How high should the Bengals be now that they’re locked into the NFL playoffs?

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Syndication: USA TODAY Kareem Elgazzar / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Cincinnati Bengals are starting to click at the perfect time.

Coming off a massive 34-31 victory over the surging Kansas City Chiefs, the Bengals have now locked up a playoff spot. The AFC North, for the first time in about half a decade, runs through Cincinnati.

The duo of wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and quarterback Joe Burrow not only made history on Sunday but set themselves in the national spotlight are one of the best combinations in the NFL. Their connection rivals even Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams.

After getting down 14-0 on Sunday, the Bengals started to find their groove. Chase ended with 266 receiving yards and three touchdowns, arguably the best performance of any wide receiver this season.

With that in mind, the Bengals are starting to look like true Super Bowl contenders. In turn, they rose in just about every one of the power rankings put out by national media sites, including one top-five ranking.

Let’s dive into where the Bengals are being ranked.

ESPN— No. 10— Same as prior week

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Bengals QB is at risk in the pocket a little more than anyone is probably comfortable with. Before being dissuaded from this resolution by any positive comments, let’s take a look at the numbers. The Bengals rank 31st in pass block win rate, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. They were also 31st in 2019 and tied for 29th in 2020. Burrow has been contacted 89 times inside the pocket — the third-highest total in the league, per ESPN Stats & Information research. The Bengals need improvement from current players and some offseason acquisitions to finally get the pass blocking somewhere near par. — Ben Baby

CBS sports— No. 7— Up from No. 8

Their offense has them as division champs after beating the Chiefs in a shootout last week. Joe Burrow is on fire.

ProFootball Talk— No. 6 — Up from No. 9

Get used to the Bengals in the playoffs, for years to come. Get ready for them to win a playoff game, for the first time in more than 30 years.

Yahoo! Sports— No. 10 — Up from No. 11

Zac Taylor got lucky. It was a huge risk to go for it on fourth-and-goal with less than a minute left in a tie game. He was bailed out by two defensive penalties (the first was offset by an offensive penalty). The second penalty was questionable, too. Had the Bengals not gotten those penalties and ended up losing, we’d be hearing a lot about that decision this week.

NFL— No. 5 — Up from No. 9

The Bengals are the most fun team in the NFL right now and second place isn’t even in the rearview. Led by Joe Burrow (971 yards passing over the past two weeks) and Ja’Marr Chase (a rookie-record 266 receiving yards in Week 17), Cincinnati has gone from AFC North afterthought to division champion and legit Super Bowl contender. “I said it in the preseason,” Burrow said after beating the Chiefs. “We were talking about playoffs, and I said that if we were going to go to the playoffs, the easiest way to do that was to win the division. Everyone kind of laughed at us a little bit, but we knew what kind of team we had.” This team believes.

Sports Illustrated — No. 6

It may be recency bias, sure, but this team is rolling right now. Joe Burrow should not only be a comeback player of the year winner but an MVP frontrunner. Ja’Marr Chase is rookie of the year. Duke Tobin is executive of the year. And me? Dunce of the year for picking them to win three games.

USA Today — No. 9 — Up from No. 10

The last time they won a playoff game was 1990, when they beat the Houston Oilers ... before losing to the Los Angeles Raiders the following week. Wow. History. Cincinnati now has a nifty shot to end its league-long 31-year streak of infamy.

Sporting News — No. 8 — Up from No. 10

The Bengals went from a feel-good turnaround story in the AFC to breaking through as a legitimate new offensive-minded power led by Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase with their comeback takedown of the Chiefs at home. Their defense still far from perfect, but they can score with anyone in the AFC playoffs.

Where do you think the Cincinnati Bengals should be ranked? Let us know in the poll below and in the comments section!

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