The Cincinnati Bengals are in the playoff picture for the first time this year. The offense and defense look fantastic at times but aren’t quite exactly where they need to be.
So what did we learn from the Bengals’ 24-18 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday Night Football?
The Bengals might be fine at tight end
Joe Burrow is a tight end’s dream.
Did anyone outside Cincinnati know C.J. Uzomah’s name before 2021?
Did anyone see Hayden Hurst catching a huge touchdown on the road in an AFC Divisional Round game before last year?
And did anyone think Tanner Hudson would look like a star in a primetime game?
It seems like you can take any tight end with receiving ability, allow him to learn the system and develop chemistry with Burrow, and he will develop into an impact player.
By the way, Hudson’s immediate production and presence seemed to light a fire under both Irv Smith, who had his first touchdown of the season on the Bengals’ opening drive, and Drew Sample, who had an inspired 22-yard touchdown catch near the end of the first half.
Primetime games are no longer a concern
Cincinnati was 0-9 in NBC’s Sunday Night Football games heading into last night’s matchup. But yet again, Burrow broke an embarrassing franchise streak.
It’s safe to say that Burrow—along with the other big changes in the franchise — has completely transformed the identity of the team. No longer are we filled with anxiety ahead of the test-your-mettle contests in primetime slots or the postseason. Instead, we’re filled with a Burrow-like calm.
In fact, it’s safe to say that these Bengals are the opposite of what we had always known; they’re even better on the biggest stages.
Zac Taylor: “These are the stages they want to be on. They don’t shy away from them.”— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) November 6, 2023
Bengals 6-0 in primetime at home under Taylor.
The defense is a little leaky
The defense always seems to produce a timely turnover or sack to finish games, but it is still a little bit of a concern that they find themselves in those situations in the first place.
The Bengals should’ve beaten Buffalo by at least two scores. But the Bills crawled back into the game with a 75-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. This is despite the fact that Buffalo’s offense had been struggling with consistency all night.
Yes, the Bengals defense has gotten even stronger in a few areas since Super Bowl LVI. Cam Taylor-Britt has emerged as a true shutdown corner. DJ Turner added speed to the defensive backfield. And Sam Hubbard has developed as a pass rusher.
But Jessie Bates’ presence is missed. He was the guy who roamed the middle of the field and discouraged QBs from trying to carve the defense up.
The good news is, there’s still time for the plumber, Lou Anarumo, to complete his work and get things airtight, especially considering the fact that he is fielding a new group of safeties, with second-year player Dax Hill, free agent signing Nick Scott, and rookie Jordan Battle.
What was your biggest takeaway from the Bengals’ monstrous win over the Bills? Let us know in the comments section!