For the amount of talent on the Bengals' overall roster, a 3-4-1 start to 2016 almost seems criminal. While the entire team seems to be underachieving, Andy Dalton's chemistry with A.J. Green has seen masterful results. And, for the past two weeks, Dalton has seen his big security blanket return in tight end Tyler Eifert.
On Sunday, both big pass-catchers made a total of 18 plays (more, if you count penalties against them by Washington players) to help the Bengals climb back into a tie against the Redskins. It was especially important for both to step up, as it wasn't the sharpest passing day from No. 14. Both players made a number of contested catches and contributed to Cincinnati's second-best point output this season.
The way we see it, Green and Eifert are the two most deserving candidates for this week's MVP award. Sure, Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill contributed well on the ground, but the two Pro Bowl receiving weapons were the Bengals' stars in London.
Which one gets your vote this week?
One would have thought that Eifert's big day would have come in his 2016 season debut last week against a depleted Browns defense, but he apparently needed a week to get re-acclimated to game speed. Whether it was on screen passes, contested attempts in the middle of the field or reeling in a high pass for a score, Eifert looks to be building upon his 2015 breakout campaign. He finished the day with nine catches for 102 yards and a touchdown reception.
Five of those nine grabs went for first downs or a touchdown, again proving Eifert's massive value in the short and intermediate areas of the field. With a bye week coming up and the team needing to win many of the games remaining on the schedule, Eifert's increasing role should be a godsend. This is especially true in the up-for-grabs AFC North, of which the Bengals have four inter-division games left to play this year.
Is this the best season we have seen out of No. 18's illustrious career? Going into this week, Green's battle against Redskins cornerback Josh Norman was one of the big topics of the contest. Norman mauled Green on the field, mostly illegally, but Green still had a 100-yard day against the Pro Bowl defensive back. Green bested Norman for nine catches and 121 yards.
The biggest beauty was a 40-yard bomb down the right sideline with Norman grabbing the back of his jersey. Seven of Green's catches went for first downs on Sunday and Norman's only response, aside from illegally using his hands to Green's face and interfering with him on pass attempts, was to bash the referees after the game.