The Cincinnati Bengals have not started the 2022 season as they had hoped.
A difficult divisional loss at home to an inferior opponent in the wackiest way possible kicked off the season, then a 20-17 loss to a team lacking its superstar followed that up.
Things are not trending positively. Implementing four new offensive linemen could take time. That’s the leading cause of concern as Joe Burrow has gone down 13 times in the past 2 games.
Couple that with some play-calling and game-management tactics that seemed to have potential to improve, and fans shouldn’t be worried about the direction of the team. The flaws seem correctable.
On the other hand, NFL media continues to drop the Bengals, and I don’t think many people can blame them. Let’s dive into where the Bengals sit around the NFL in this week’s power rankings.
ESPN — No. 15 - down from No. 7
Cincinnati knew it was going to see more Cover 2 defensive looks this season, with the safeties aligned to take away the deep part of the field. That has certainly been the case. Last year, the Bengals were able to gash teams with explosive plays. But different variations of those two-high safety shells have prevented Cincinnati from breaking out in 2022. Fixing the solution could be as simple as getting more production out of running back Joe Mixon and the rushing attack and working the ball to wide receiver Tyler Boyd over the middle of the field. — Ben Baby
USA Today — No. 18 - down from No. 7
QB Joe Burrow was buried for a league-most 70 sacks in 20 games last season, an average of 3.5 per. That’s jumped to 13 in two 2022 games behind his supposedly improved offensive line.
NBC Sports— No. 18
The Bengals have been borderline atrocious in their first two games and still had a chance to win each of them. That’s something … I think.
New York Post — No. 20
The Ringer — No. 10
Sporting News — No. 16 - down from No. 12
What was that? Joe Burrow has gone back to being a human pinata with a high level of pressure and sacks to show for it against him. The Bengals are insistent on delivering their downfield passing game and it’s not complementary in relation to their defensive effort. It will suddenly get tougher, too, against better QBs after Week 3 at the Jets.
Yahoo! Sports — No. 15 - down from No. 10
The Bengals get the Jets this week, and if that’s not a win then there’s real problems. But the three games after that are vs. Dolphins, at Ravens, at Saints. The Bengals need to fix their issues in a hurry or this season could get away from them.
The Score — No. 15 - down from No. 9
Veteran tight end Hayden Hurst already has a sizeable workload in Cincinnati’s offense. He trails only Ja’Marr Chase in targets on the team and is tied with Tee Higgins for second in receptions with 10. The Bengals will have to find more ways to get the ball downfield to their best receivers if they’re going to bounce back from this surprisingly poor start.