The Cincinnati Bengals were down 17-0 in the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Riding a five-game winning streak, it seemed probable that would be snapped on Sunday.
However, a 4-touchdown second half by Joe Burrow saved the day as the Bengals owed the 3rd quarter, taking a 20-17 lead into the final period, which they then won by 8.
Cincinnati is now 10-4 and sits atop the AFC North with New England on deck. The Bengals then get two straight home games, against Buffalo and Baltimore, to close out the season.
Having won six in a row, let’s dive into where Cincinnati sits in national media’s Week 16 power rankings.
ESPN — No. 4 - Up from No. 7
Perine has been the team’s primary back on third downs and has made big plays in the past, such as his touchdown reception in last year’s AFC Championship Game. This year, with Joe Mixon out during Weeks 12 and 13, Perine was effective as the top running back, with 38 rushes for 164 yards and a touchdown. Now, with Mixon healthy, Perine has commanded a higher snap share and helped the offense remain consistent during a six-game winning streak. — Ben Baby
NFL.com — No. 4 - Down from No. 3
The Bengals spotted the Bucs the game’s first 17 points on Sunday before taking Tom Brady’s team apart with clinical precision in a 34-23 comeback win in Tampa. The sluggish start by Cincinnati made the team’s second-half surge all the more stunning: The Bengals forced four turnovers and Joe Burrow threw four touchdown passes, three of which ended scoring drives that were fewer than 40 yards in distance due to Tampa Bay’s avalanche of mistakes. The win, coupled with a Ravens loss to the Browns on Saturday, gives the Bengals some cushion as they attempt to claim their second straight AFC North crown. It would not be wise to bet against this team.
Pro Football Talk — No. 5 - Up from No. 6
JB9 > TB12.
The Ringer — No. 4 - Up from No. 5
Sunday was one of the Bengals’ most impressive wins all season. The Bucs punched them in the mouth and got out to a 17-3 first-half lead, but Joe Burrow’s composure and second-half adjustments by defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo proved too much for Tampa Bay to handle. Only the Eagles are playing better complementary football than the new AFC North–leading Bengals at this point in the season.
Yahoo! Sports — No. 6 - Same as prior week
Cincinnati is still a bit confusing. The Bengals looked absolutely awful in the first half against the Buccaneers. Then they rolled over them in the second half. It’s still a good win, especially since they’re now in first place after that win and the Ravens’ loss.
Sporting News — No 5 - Up from No. 6
The Bengals rumbled in Tampa Bay to quickly erase a 17-point deficit thanks to Joe Burrow and the offense balance by timely defense vs. the GOAT. Burrow is making his late case for MVP.
USA Today — No. 2 - Same as prior week
A sweep of the putrid NFC South in hand, time to move on to weightier matters — namely trying to hang onto first place in the AFC North while closing out the schedule against New England, Buffalo and Baltimore.
Fox Sports — No. 2
We’ve known all about Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense forever, but what about this defense? Without much in the way of star power, Cincinnati is 12th overall in defensive efficiency and forced four turnovers to lead the comeback against the Buccaneers. This is a team that’s humming on both sides of the ball.