The Cincinnati Bengals were projected to be one of the best teams in the NFL prior to the season’s commencement, but two straight losses to subpar teams quickly changed the perspective of the team around the league.
A sloppy 23-20 overtime loss to a rival, Pittsburgh, at home hurt, but it was followed up by a road loss to the Cowboys. Cincinnati finally got right with a win over the Jets, taking New York down by 15, then beat the Dolphins on Thursday Night Football, 27-15.
With two double-digit wins now under their belt, Cincinnati is starting to regain that respect around the league, but a Sunday Night Football win this weekend over Baltimore would do quite a bit to bolster the attitude around their team.
Nonetheless, let’s dive into where national media have the Bengals ranked after four weeks.
NFL.com — No. 6 - up from No. 10
Bengals back? We think so! Joe Burrow passed for 287 yards and two scores, including the game-icing fourth-down TD flip to Hayden Hurst that sealed a 27-15 win over the previously undefeated Dolphins. After the victory, Burrow complimented his offensive line, a maligned unit that stepped up and kept Joey Franchise clean throughout the night (just one sack). Burrow’s favorite target was — once again — a receiver other than Ja’Marr Chase: Tee Higgins went off for 124 yards and a touchdown on seven catches. It feels like the Bengals are back to beast status. We’ll know for sure after Sunday night’s showdown with the Ravens in Baltimore.
ESPN.com — No. 6 - up from No. 10
Honestly, there’s very little to nitpick the Bengals’ defense about. Cincinnati has one of the best defenses in the NFL. It ranks first in touchdowns allowed per drive and second in points allowed per drive. If there’s one thing Cincinnati could improve, it’s the pass rush. The Bengals are 26th in sacks per dropback, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, and are tied for 22nd in total sacks. But that could also be a function of how much teams are throwing against Cincinnati. Its defense has faced the third-most pass attempts in the NFL this season. — Ben Baby
USA Today — No. 10 - up from No. 12
A record crowd of 67,260 showed up Thursday night at Paycor Stadium for the successful unveiling of the team’s “White Bengal” look. When you look good, they pay good by the thousands.
Pro Football Talk — No 8 - up from No. 10
They’re gradually putting it all together.
Sporting News — No. 11 - up from No. 13
The Bengals have figured out more things around Joe Burrow regarding his pass protection and they’re back to making critical sacks and takeaways playing off their elite young passer. They’re right back in the mix to take the AFC North.
Yahoo! Sports — No. 7
Just like John Wick, I’m thinking Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ offense are back.
TheScore — No. 11 - up from No. 13
After a frustrating 0-2 start, back-to-back wins suddenly have the Bengals back at .500. There’s still plenty of work to be done, particularly on the new-look offensive line, but the star power was eventually going to take over.
Fox News — No. 12
Sports Illustrated — No. 13
Only three quarterback hits and one sack on Joe Burrow on Thursday, as the Bengals put on a performance most reminiscent of their 2021 run last week. While Burrow is always decisive, he looked more willing to accept intermediate options, which led to some effective plays, like the quick game to Tee Higgins off the line.