Analysts and some fans alike had frustrations with the Cincinnati Bengals as they continued to struggle early on in the season. When they were 1-3, many power rankings had Cincinnati as a team in the bottom half of the league.
Much of the concern was on the health of Joe Burrow, not necessarily the talent on the roster.
Cincinnati has been to two straight AFC Championships, and it is starting to flex that might. Its 31-17 road win over San Francisco proved what it is capable of, and with it, the Bengals shot up the power rankings for most major sports outlets.
Let’s dive into where they are placed as we head into Week 9.
ESPN — No. 11 - Up from No. 13
Joe Burrow has battled back from a preseason right calf injury and appeared to turn the corner in a Week 8 win over the 49ers. Burrow had his highest single-game completion percentage (87.5%), and the offense had its most explosive day of the season against one of the NFL’s better defenses. Burrow averaged 7.82 yards per dropback, which is an increase from his 4.56 average for the first six weeks. The work Burrow spent in the offseason improving his agility and acceleration was on display against San Francisco. Burrow’s 89.4 Total QBR was the second highest of his career. — Ben Baby
CBS Sports — No. 8 - Up from No. 14
Coming off their bye, they rocked the 49ers. Joe Burrow was back to being Joe Burrow after struggling with a calf injury since the summer.
Action Network — No. 7
Sports Illustrated — No. 5
The entire city of Cincinnati exhales on a third down with 11 minutes to go in the first quarter when Joe Burrow pulls an Eli Manning, removes himself from the grasp and fires a dart to Tee Higgins on the sideline. Or, maybe the scramble at the beginning of the third quarter when he smashed his fists on his helmet afterward. He’s back. Meanwhile, finishing a game where Brock Purdy is the 49ers’ leading rusher is an incredible accomplishment. Sans Trent Williams, the Bengals took advantage. It would not be surprising to see them at No. 1 in the power rankings at some point soon.
Yahoo! Sports — No. 10 - Up from No. 12
Maybe the Bengals are back. Those issues that seemed hard to fix a few weeks ago all were fine when they were dominating the 49ers’ defense on Sunday. We can pretty much go forward assuming Cincinnati has returned to being a top team, though a Week 9 game against the Bills will be telling.
NFL.com — No. 11 - Up from No. 12
Don’t look now, but Joe Burrow and the Bengals are hot, with the offense and defense quickly making huge strides following a 1-3 start. Sunday’s victory over San Franciscomarked the first time this season one could say Cincinnati resembled a team capable of winning the Super Bowl. Burrow connected on 19 straight passes at one point against the 49ers, and the Bengals’ defense forced three turnovers, holding the Niners to 10 points over the final 48-plus minutes. Getting Tee Higgins and Joe Mixon back in a little groove helped, and Cincy could have scored more, had Irv Smith Jr. not fumbled near the goal line. The Bengals are back, just in time for a huge matchup at home vs. the Bills on Sunday Night Football.
The Ringer — No. 8
Sporting News — No. 9
The Bengals have the real Joe Burrow back after their injury-riddled start. Now looking at it, they are right there with the Ravens, Steelers and Browns in the tough AFC North battle. They put it all together at the right time ahead of facing the Bills in a playoff rematch.
USA Today — No. 10 - Up from No. 12
They seem to be back, QB Joe Burrow looking quite spry and highly accurate Sunday as Cincinnati won for the fourth time in its past five games. But speaking of four out of five, the Stripes will face Buffalo, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville over the next five weeks.