The Cincinnati Bengals are riding a four-game win streak and have surged to start their second-half schedule. They took down the Steelers 37-30 then defeated the Titans in Tennessee 20-16.
All eyes then focused on the Bengals welcoming the Chiefs, a rematch of the AFC Championship Game. This one didn’t go to overtime with the Bengals winning out 27-24.
Cincinnati was led by Joe Burrow, who ended the game with 286 yards and 2 touchdowns. Samaje Perine also had a massive game, contributing 106 rushing yards with starting back Joe Mixon out.
The Bengals have continued to surge in the national media’s power rankings, and now 8-4, let’s dive into where they are sitting.
NFL.com — No. 3 - Up form No. 8
Joe Burrow is The Truth. On Sunday, Bengals coach Zac Taylor asked his young quarterback to put a dagger through the heart of the mighty Chiefs on third-and-long in the final two minutes. Burrow happily obliged, delivering a perfect 14-yard strike to Tee Higgins that allowed Cincinnati to run out the clock on their fourth straight win and third victory over Kansas City in this calendar year. The Bengals currently sit in second in the AFC North because of their Week 5 loss to the Ravens, but there’s little question which team feels more like a legitimate Super Bowl contender right now. So much of that goes back to the guy under center. When asked Sunday if he thinks his quarterback is playing at an MVP level, Taylor didn’t hesitate: “Absolutely. ... I wouldn’t trade him for anybody in the world.”
Yahoo! Sports — No. 5 - Up from No. 9
The win over the Chiefs combined with Lamar Jackson’s injury (and the Ravens’ continued offensive struggles) probably changes the AFC North outlook. Cincinnati does have tiebreaker problems, having lost to the Ravens once, and also the Browns and Steelers. But they’re the better team right now and it might not be close.
CBS Sports — No. 6 - Up from No. 8
They have righted their season with four straight victories, showing they will be a factor in the AFC by beating the Chiefs. Samaje Perine was outstanding in that game.
The Ringer — No. 5 - Up from No. 8
What’s not to like in Cincinnati right now? Joe Burrow is playing the best football of his career; head coach Zac Taylor has done more to improve the offense than he ever has with the Bengals; and defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo has somehow elevated his game without top cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. Hell, even backup running back Samaje Perine is balling out in Joe Mixon’s stead in recent weeks. This is a better Bengals team than last year, and that team went all the way to the Super Bowl.
ESPN — No. 8 - Same as last week
Bengals coordinator Lou Anarumo has stymied opposing quarterbacks this season. Cincinnati leads the NFL in opposing completion percentage at 59%, according to ESPN Stats & Information. It’s an impressive feat given the Bengals are without top cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, who went down in Week 8 with a torn ACL. The Bengals have held eight opponents under the 60% mark. That includes Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, who completed 59.3% of his passes in the team’s Week 13 loss in Cincinnati. — Ben Baby
Sports Illustrated — No. 7
When we wrote about Joe Burrow and the Bengals for this year’s football preview issue, the crux of our piece was that there’s no reason why this team cannot be a perennial contender because of Burrow. What we didn’t know was how well the Bengals would continue to mold personnel around Burrow and put him into situations where he can simply be Burrow. Against the Chiefs the past three times (Burrow and Tom Brady are the only QBs in the NFL who are undefeated against Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs teams) that has been the ticket.
FOX Sports — No. 4
The Bengals didn’t even need to lean on explosive plays to beat Patrick Mahomes. They ran the ball surprisingly well, played solid defense and let Joe Burrow be the coolest guy in the building. The efficiency and determination with which they outlasted Kansas City was truly impressive.
Pro Football Talk — No. 7
Three wins over the Chiefs in the 2022 calendar year should get them some sort of trophy.
Pro Football Network — No. 6
It’s tough to look at what this team has accomplished since losing to Cooper Rush and the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2 without believing they’re one of the league’s elite teams.
When Cincinnati lost Chidobe Awuzie, I thought their defense would suffer greatly. However, it turns out drafting a few defensive backs in the first two rounds of the NFL draft to sure the secondary up was a bright decision.