The Cincinnati Bengals are now 2-3, and thankfully, the Cleveland Browns are worse than that, and the Ravens were a game-winning touchdown away from switching spots with Cincinnati.
The first few games were difficult, but the Super Bowl hangover seems to be over. The Bengals, heading into Week 5 with a 2-2 record, took on the Ravens in a primetime Sunday Night Football matchup.
They play the bulk of the game without Tee Higgins who is clearly a necessity to this offense. The Bengals went on to lose 19-17 after taking a 17-16 lead with under 2 minutes in the game.
Justin Tucker connected on a game-winning field goal as he’s done so many times before. The Bengals have now lost 3 of their first 5 games by field goals which could actually be encouraging for Cincinnati.
That said, following their Week 5 loss, let’s see where national media outlets have them sitting in respect to the rest of the league.
The Ringer — No. 9 - down from No. 8
Cincinnati’s offensive line is under fire seemingly every week, but it’s time to point the finger at Joe Burrow and the offensive play calling. Burrow has been under pressure on just 29 percent of his dropbacks this season, the ninth-lowest rate among starting quarterbacks. When kept clean, Burrow is tied for 16th in EPA per dropback (0.20) and 24th in yards per attempt (7.0). The Bengals, who have called the ninth-most runs of any team on first and second down, also rank 31st in EPA per play (-0.15) and 32nd in explosive play rate (seven percent) on early downs.
Sporting News — No. 14 - down from No. 11
The Bengals are still sorting out some offensive issues for Joe Burrow as teams are taking away Ja’Marr Chase, which is easier when Tee Higgins is hurting. They are managing well early and are set up to roll in the next month with an easier schedule.
Yahoo! Sports — No. 15 - down from No. 13
The deep ball is missing from the Bengals offense. Joe Burrow’s percentage of deep passes, his efficiency on those passes and his average depth of target are all near the bottom of the league. The Bengals aren’t attempting many deep shots and aren’t hitting many when they do try. Offensive line issues don’t help that. Not having Tee Higgins for most of the loss to the Ravens after he went down with an ankle injury hampered them too. But somehow, Cincinnati needs to rediscover the deep passing game or this season isn’t going to turn out as they hope.
USA Today — No. 11 - down from No. 10
Always wise to take Twitter’s instructiveness with a few grains of salt ... but, man, do people hate coach Zac Taylor’s play calling – particularly during Sunday night’s loss at Baltimore.
Sports Illustrated — No. 14
If the Bengals are complaining about missing one of their three incredible wide receivers as a reason to why this isn’t working, spare me. Then it’s time to take some of the responsibility off Joe Burrow’s plate and design something a little more user-friendly.
ESPN — No. 14 - down from No. 10
The Bengals’ offense right now is easily stifled. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has watched the Bengals through five games. Opposing defenses have eliminated Cincinnati’s ability to find explosive plays down the field and the Bengals are trying to find the solution. Last year, Cincinnati led the NFL in yards per attempt. This season, the Bengals are just 18th, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Teams have neutralized the Bengals’ deep passing attack and are forcing quarterback Joe Burrow to work methodically down the field. While the coaching staff has been happy with some of the results, the team isn’t scoring nearly enough points to truly trouble its opponents or ensure that it will make the playoffs. — Ben Baby
NBC Sports — No. 10
All three of the Bengals losses have come on walk-off field goals after overcoming double-digit deficits. Related: We might need to file coaching malpractice charges against Zac Taylor.