The Cincinnati Bengals may not have started this season well coming off an AFC Championship campaign, but hope shouldn’t be lost yet.
The Cincinnati Bengals faced a tough loss in their season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They lost 23-20 in overtime, with star quarterback Joe Burrow throwing four interceptions during the game, nearly as many as he had throughout his entire first NFL season. There were several reasons to lose hope, but one PFF stat should bring optimism toward the rest of the season.
According to PFF, the Bengals had the highest-graded overall defense in Week 1 (81.4).
The Bengals season opener shouldn’t be considered telling for the rest of the season. They have a roster with a lot of potential, and bad games are bound to happen even to the best teams.
Bengals have the potential to recreate success
With several key players returning from last year, Cincinnati could certainly have a successful season. Burrow may have had a rough season opener, but he’s been reliable otherwise. Last season, he performed incredibly with an average completion percentage of 70.4, 4,611 total passing yards and 34 passing touchdowns.
Wide receiver Tee Higgins is also back. Though he had to exit the game against the Steelers early on Sunday with a concussion, he’s reportedly on a good track and doing light practice in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.
According to coach Zac Taylor, “He’s making good progress through the protocol. I can’t 100 percent predict [if he’s going to play] today, I just know he’s cleared the hurdles so far that he needs to clear,” (via Chris Roling, Bengals Wire). If he returns in full health, which seems likely, he’ll be a big contributor this season.
Higgins played a huge role in bringing the Bengals to the Super Bowl. In the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs, he led the team in targets and yards and contributed to several big plays, though he never made it to the end zone himself.
Linebacker Logan Wilson is making a comeback as well after helping lead to the franchise’s first road playoff win in history. He led the team in interceptions last season with four total, one of which was a crucial one in the AFC Divisional round against the Tennessee Titans, who were the leaders of the AFC South division.
The interception set up the winning field goal by Evan McPherson. According to Dave Clark of Cincinnati.com, “It was one of the biggest interceptions in Cincinnati Bengals’ playoff history.”
Other returning key members of the 2021 team include running back Joe Mixon, defensive end Trey Hendrickson and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. The team certainly has a lot of talent that could shine through the rest of the season.