The Cincinnati Bengals returned home following a win in New Orleans and welcomed the Atlanta Falcons. Cincinnati got out to a quick start, ending the first quarter up 14-0 and entering half up 28-17.
The lone score of the second half was a Bengals touchdown. Cincinnati has now moved to 4-3 and has the Cleveland Browns, who could be without David Njoku, on deck. That game will be Week 8’s Monday Night Football.
With the Panthers up next following that battle, heading into Cleveland and getting a win would be huge for the Bengals who are currently tied with the Ravens for the top spot in the AFC North.
That said, now above .500, here’s where the Bengals are sitting in national media’s rankings.
NFL.com — No. 5 - Same as the previous week
Joe Burrow is cooking now. The third-year QB looks about ready to dip his toe in the MVP discussion after a masterful performance in a blowout win over the Falcons. Burrow passed for 344 yards in the first half alone as the Bengals scored on their first four possessions. When it was over, Burrow had become the first player in NFL history to have five 400-yard passing games in his first three seasons. Cincy has come a long way since the robust struggles that defined the start of its AFC title defense. “Well,” Zac Taylor said, “I hope you all listened to me as I got up here at 0-2 and said just be patient.” Fair play, coach!
The Ringer — No. 6 - Up from No. 7
The Bengals offense is evolving: They are now running the ball less on early downs and pivoting to a shotgun-heavy, light personnel offense, and it’s working. After dropping two straight against the Steelers and Cowboys to start the season, Cincinnati ranks third in offensive EPA per drive (0.82) and second in EPA per dropback (0.27) since Week 3. No quarterback has been more efficient over the last two weeks than Joe Burrow, and his top-flight receiving corps is finally living up to the hype, as Tyler Boyd (155) and Ja’Marr Chase (130) finished Week 7 first and second in total receiving yards. This is a Bengals offense fit for a return to the postseason.
Yahoo! Sports — No. 10 - Up from No. 14
It feels like the entire league is using September and October to sort things out. Maybe that means the Bengals are right on schedule? They were awesome on Sunday, with Joe Burrow finally looking like what we thought he might be this season. He threw for 481 yards and probably could have come close to 600 if the Bengals wanted to run up the score. Still plenty of time for Cincinnati to be very good this season.
ESPN — No. 9 - Up from No. 13
The Bengals have a plus-10 touchdown differential, only second to the Bills, who were idle this week. Cincinnati’s offense has found some quality form in back-to-back weeks, with QB Joe Burrow spearheading the attack. Defensively, the Bengals have yet to surrender a second-half touchdown this season, the first team since the 2000 Ravens to accomplish that feat through the first seven weeks. That trend has enabled the Bengals to weather an early-season lull and stay in the mix to win the AFC North for the second straight season. — Ben Baby
Sporting News — No. 7 - Up from No. 11
The Bengals have their offensive groove back with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase going back to big-play fun with plenty of assists from Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon. Their defense can go back to playing to its strength against the pass while playing with leads.
CBS Sports — No. 9 - Up from No. 10
The passing attack has come alive in a big way. Watch out for them as they become a legitimate Super Bowl contender again.
Pro Football Talk — No. 10 - Up from No. 12
Joe Burrow and company are finding their groove.
For The Win — No. 6 - Up from No. 9
The Bengals finally rediscovered the scariest version of themselves as Joe Burrow threw for three touchdowns in the first half alone vs. a depleted Atlanta Falcons secondary. Burrow finished his day with 481 passing yards, 378 of which went to Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd. Cincinnati remains a “pick your poison” proposition through the air, though its questionable offensive line could be the key to making sure Burrow can’t roast you downfield.