If they win, their season will be back on track, and they will avoid the 0-2 start they suffered in 2022. However, if they lose, not only will they start with an 0-2 record for the second consecutive year, but they’ll lose two division games right off the bat.
Here are six players to keep an eye on in Week 2.
Joe Burrow, QB
You knew we’d have to start here. Burrow played poorly in Week 1 against the Browns. It was a perfect storm of the heavy rain, his injured calf, no training camp or preseason reps to get in sync with his receivers, and an overall tough matchup against a very good Browns defense. We’ve seen Burrow in tough spots before, and he didn’t play as poorly as he did against the Browns last week.
That’s okay. Even the greatest players have off weeks. Expect Burrow to bounce back in Week 2. He may not look like himself completely this Sunday, but I expect him to be much improved.
Joe Mixon, RB
Mixon looked good in Week 1, but unfortunately, he didn’t get much of a chance to show it. He rarely looked like this last year:
One bright spot for the Bengals was Joe Mixon. Thought he looked healthy, shifty, powerful, and explosive. Made the most of his opportunities and looks good in this revamped run game. pic.twitter.com/SM3XPf4dxh— mike (@bengals_sans) September 11, 2023
In the end, though, he only had 13 carries throughout the game. For a large portion of the game, especially in the second half, the game script called for more passing plays and less running because time had become an enemy. However, before that happened, I would have liked to see Mixon get more carries just because the run game was working. Maybe that’s something they’ll do this week, especially if Burrow is still not quite himself.
Tee Higgins, WR
Higgins was targeted eight times by Burrow in Week 1 and didn’t have a single reception. It was clear the wide receiver, entering the final year of his contract, and his quarterback were not on the same page. Higgins is such a big part of the offense, and while Chase may be considered more of a threat by defensive coordinators, Higgins is the No. 1 wide receiver on almost any other team.
Like Burrow, Higgins will be looking to bounce back in Week 2, and if the Ravens are able to put a lot of points on the board, forcing the offense to throw the ball, Burrow and Higgins will need to be in sync.
Germaine Pratt and Logan Wilson, LBs
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is one of the most dynamic players in the NFL. Every time he touches the ball, he’s a threat to either throw for a touchdown or run for one from anywhere on the field. While the defensive line’s job will be to keep Jackson in the pocket, if he escapes, it will next fall on Pratt or Wilson unless defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo designates one player to spy on him.
Pratt and Wilson are among the best linebacker duo in the NFL, and they both signed new contracts this offseason, keeping them in Cincinnati through the 2025 season. Containing Jackson isn’t a small feat, but there aren’t many teams with two linebackers more capable than the Bengals.
Mike Hilton, CB
The Ravens beat the Houston Texans in Week 1 by a score of 25-9. Jackson didn’t throw any touchdown passes, as all three Ravens touchdowns came from running the ball, but Zay Flowers, the rookie wide receiver selected in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft out of Boston College, caught nine passes for 78 yards, leading all Ravens receivers. Flowers lines up in the slot, which will bring him face-to-face with Hilton. Last week against the Browns, the receiver Hilton was covering was only targeted twice, but both targets were caught and transferred to 45 yards of offense for the Browns.
Hilton versus Flowers could absolutely be a storyline for this game.
What other Bengals players will you be keeping an eye on? Let us know in the comments.