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Tuesday Trenches: Heading Californee Way; Where are they now?

The Bengals are coming out of the bye and heading to the Bay area to take on their old nemesis.

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Cincinnati Bengals got off to a bad start, but like they did last season, they have started to right the ship. After a second consecutive 0-2 start, they’ve won three of their last four games. They find themselves in very familiar territory, but now their schedule takes a turn down Elm Street. Get it? Because it’s a NIGHTMARE!

Halloween is almost here!

On Sunday afternoon, the Bengals will take on the San Francisco 49ers in the Bay Area. The Niners lost to the Browns in another stunning defensive display from Cleveland and just lost on Monday to the Vikings.

Here are a couple thoughts on the Bengals Week 8 game against the Niners:

  • The 49ers are going to be coming into the game on a short week, and the Bengals have an extra week of rest. It won’t make or break either team, but it does matter. There wouldn’t be bye weeks in the NFL if teams didn’t need them. Tee Higgins, Joe Burrow, and Orlando Brown Jr. are all dealing with injuries. Having the week off should allow the Bengals to come into their game on Sunday relatively healthy, at least compared to the Niners, who will be without Deebo Samuel and possibly Trent Williams.
  • If Burrow isn’t fully healthy and isn’t able to move in the pocket, Sunday’s game could be a long one. The Niners have a great defense, and Nick Bosa is one of the best pass rushers in the league. They haven’t had a ton of sacks so far this season (15), but they’re capable of getting into the backfield quickly. If Brown isn’t healthy, Burrow will need to move. Hopefully he’s able to.
  • The Steelers, Ravens, and Browns all won during the Bengals bye week, adding pressure for the Bengals to win. It’s early in the season, and there’s still a lot of football to be played, but the Bengals are going to be fighting an uphill battle when it comes to winning the division for the third consecutive year. Losing to the Niners on Sunday will just make their hole a little deeper.
  • The 49ers are a good team. Brock Purdy can sling it. CMC is in the backfield. George Kittle is the tight end. Even without Samuel, they still have Brandon Aiyuk. They have a good defense, and they’re coached well. If they play up to their potential, they can be a handful. Luckily for us (I’m assuming you’re a Bengals fan grouping you in with “us”), the Bengals have Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, someone who plays the tight end position, and they have a solid defense as well.
  • Also, we have Trey Hendrickson.

Let’s play a game.

The Bengals are on bye, so there’s not a game to talk about from last week. Let’s take a look at the free agents who left the Bengals before the 2023 season, as they’re all contestants on “Where Are They Now?”

Note: I’m not doing all the free agents who left, just the ones that were major contributors to the Bengals before they left.

Also, this was my wife’s idea.

Bates is the second-highest graded safety, per PFF. He has picked off three passes, one of which he returned for a touchdown, and he has a 89.5 grade in run defense so far on the season as well. He is everything the Falcons paid for and more. I’m happy for him.

Replacement: Dax Hill, who has played well and has been extremely versatile.


Bell signed with the Panthers and has started Weeks 1-5 but missed Week 6 with a quad injury. So far this season, he’s picked off a pass and has a 61.2 grade, per PFF, in run defense. He and Bates formed a great safety duo in Cincinnati but separated, abd Bell has taken a small step back.

Replacement: Nick Scott and Jordan Battle


Apple was never intended to be a starter for the Bengals, but injuries forced him to climb up the depth chart. He absolutely played the best football of his career in Cincinnati, and he was instrumental in getting the Bengals to the Super Bowl and then the AFC Championship game. He’s been okay this season. He hasn’t started every game, and it looks like he’s fulfilling the role with the Dolphins that the Bengals intended him to fill with them.

Replacement: DJ Turner, DJ Ivey, Sidney Jones IV


  • Hayden Hurst (Carolina Panthers)

Hurst has caught 14 passes for 116 yards and 1 touchdown so far this season. He’s on pace for just over 300 yards receiving, which would fall about 200 yards short of what he did last year with Burrow. Unfortunately for Hurst, quarterback play has hurt him.

Replacement: Irv Smith Jr.


Perine went to Denver, where he is playing in a committee with Javonte Williams and Jaleel McLaughlin. He is being out carried, and the Broncos just suck. I get he wanted to be a bigger piece of an offense, but so far, that hasn’t happened for him.

Replacement: Trayveon Williams and Chase Brown


Relevant Song Lyrics:

Don’t call it a comeback
I been here for years
I’m rockin’ my peers,
puttin’ suckers in fear
Makin’ the tears rain down like a monsoon
Listen to the bass go boom
Explosions, overpowerin’
Over the competition, I’m towerin’


Who Dey!