The Cincinnati Bengals, while it wasn’t the prettiest win, went into New England and came out on top.
Despite allowing 18 unanswered points to bring the game within one score in the fourth quarter, Cincinnati still ended up winning 22-18. With that win, the Bengals' record improved to 11-4, only bested by the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs.
They sit third in the AFC and, if the season ended today, would host the Los Angeles Chargers in the first round of the playoffs. That said, after yet another win, let’s dive into where national media has Cincinnati in their updated power rankings.
ESPN — No. 6 - Down from No. 4
Cincinnati hadn’t won a playoff game in three decades before a blistering run led the Bengals to their first Super Bowl appearance in 33 years. Up until that point, the fan base was filled with apathy, and there were questions about the team’s long-term future under coach Zac Taylor. Even in a dramatic loss to the Rams, the Super Bowl showed the Bengals were a championship-caliber franchise, a feeling validated by the 2022 season. — Ben Baby
NFL.com — No. 4 - Same as prior week
A very strange Christmas Eve for the Bengals, who dominated an overmatched Patriots team in the first half, then needed a New England red-zone fumble in the final minute to escape with a 22-18 win at Foxborough. Cincinnati safety Vonn Bell forced the Rhamondre Stevenson fumble that sealed the victory, which keeps the Bengals in the hunt for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. Cincy needs to get better results on the ground to keep the offense balanced: The Bengals averaged just 3.0 yards per attempt on 24 carries against the Pats after averaging 2.5 yards per carry in Week 15’s win over the Bucs. Depth on the offensive line will be tested with the news that right tackle La’el Collinsis out for the year with a torn ACL.
Pro Football Talk — No. 5 - Same as prior week
Monday night’s game against the Bills means everything for the Bengals. And for the Bills.
Yahoo! Sports — No. 2
Joe Burrow won’t apologize for winning. Nor should he. The defending AFC champs have rounded into form at the perfect time.
USA Today — No. 2 - Same as prior week
They’ve got a path to the AFC’s No. 1 seed, and that starts with beating Buffalo in a massive Monday night matchup in Cincinnati.
FOX Sports — No. 3
The Bengals were well on their way to a statement road win in Foxborough. A few mistakes later, they were holding on for dear life in a nail biter. Credit the defense for making sure Joe Burrow’s miscues didn’t bite them. Hopefully the loss of La’el Collins for the season doesn’t make life too difficult on Cincinnati’s offensive line.
Sports Illustrated — No. 4
The Bengals had a tough time moving the football on the ground, but when the Patriots took away Ja’Marr Chase (yes I’m calling ‘only’ 79 yards on 11 targets a takeaway), Tee Higgins shined. This is the 2021-22 recipe, improved.
247 Sports — No. 4 - Same as prior week
The Bengals took a big lead on the Patriots and then sat on it, which is the smart thing to do in those conditions and with little other than playoff seeding and a home game in January to play for. Likely the AFC North title will be decided in Week 18 when the Bengals and Ravens play each other again. Staying healthy for that game and the playoffs is what matters to Cincinnati now. The Bengals being here and the Browns being where they are is deeply disappointing considering the Bengals were picking #1 overall as recently as 2019.