The New Orleans Superdome hosted the Bengals and Saints on Sunday, as Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Burrow once again shined in front of 70,000 fans like they did in the College Football Championship Game a few years back at LSU. The two put on quite a show yet again and helped lead the team to a much needed win over the Saints. For the first time this season, the offense had to bail out the defense in order to secure a victory.
The Saints had injuries to Olave, Thomas and Landry, and even started former Bengal Andy Dalton. Despite all of the injuries, the Saints still nearly came out victorious as they didn’t give up a lead until two minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati seems to always find themselves in tight games and luckily, this tight game ended in favor of the Queen City. There was certainly a lot to be happy about with this game, but there is still plenty of things that need ironed out if we are wanting to watch the Bengals make a run again this winter.
· The offense is working on getting back to form again and managed to have quite an impressive second half. All snaps came out of shotgun (52/54) other than a sneak and a kneel to end the game. It’s a relief to know that we haven’t seen everything this offense has to offer yet, as they are still working on finding their identity.
· Joseph Lee Burrow. Enough said right? Number 9 was magnificent outside of the first quarter offensive struggles and he connected on 28/37 attempts with 300 yards and four touchdowns. He kept plays alive while scrambling and converted on many third downs when the team truly needed it.
· Ja’Marr found room to get free yet again in the second half and lead the team with seven receptions for 132 yards. He added on two touchdowns, but his most impressive play of the game was the extra yards he gained on third and six while down five with seven minutes to go that kept that drive alive.
· Alex Cappa is starting to shine. Over the last two games, Cappa hasn’t allowed a sack, quarterback hit, or hurry. PFF rated him at 83.5 pass blocking.
· While the defense had a very poor game, they still have yet to allow a second half touchdown this year. This six-game stretch is the longest in the NFL for any team since 2000.
· When trailing, the Bengals are never out. Cincinnati was down 17-7 after another cold start, but managed to squeeze out an ugly win. Cincinnati has been down 10-plus points in multiple games this year.
· There has been a total of 407 teams ever who have given up 228-plus rush yards, 26-plus points, and lost the turnover battle. Cincinnati joined this stat and added to the total record to make it 5-402 in the history of the NFL. In other words…Cincinnati was lucky to pull out this victory.
· Germaine Pratt was magnificent and lead the team with 14 total tackles. He has recorded eight or more tackles in the past three games.
· The Ravens and Browns lost yet again. With other teams in the AFC North struggling like we are, Cincinnati is somehow still tied for first in the division at 3-3. The Browns and Ravens play each other this Sunday.
· The defense struggled this game and mightily in stopping the run. Without D.J. Reader, this team seems to have some issues at the line of scrimmage. The Saints ran for 228 yards and averaged 6.7 yards per carry.
· The running game lacked yet again. This time, I believe it was not at the fault of Joe Mixon, as I believe he was running the ball pretty well. He was only given eight carries, but he did manage 5.6 yards per carry. If this offense is going to be as efficient as the top teams in the league, they have to find a way to get things going on the ground.
· Eli Apple had a pretty poor game and was burnt on multiple routes throughout the game. He gave up the sideline on a big run and is lucky that a flag wasn’t thrown for pass interference on the fourth down that ended the game. He was the lowest graded player for either team, had two missed tackles, and allowed four receptions for 51 yards.
· Trailing in games continues to be an issue. Cincinnati was down 17-3 to the Steelers, 17-3 to the Cowboys, 10-0 to Baltimore, and 17-7 against the Saints.
· Punt returning was an issue as a Trent Taylor fumble early in the game lead to the cold start. It might be time to let Chris Evans return all kicks and punts, as it is rare for him to even get a chance to return a kickoff.
· The Bengals still have multiple tough games left, including games against the Chiefs, Buccaneers, Bills, and our division opponents. There is no room for error against teams like the Falcons this week and the Panthers on Nov. 6.
Mark Carpenter joins Matt’s Take
This week, Mark Carpenter kindly joined Matt’s Take for a question-and-answer session. Mark is the sports editor at the People’s Defender in West Union and has been in that role since 2010. Mark lives in Ripley and shares his passion for Cincinnati sports with his wife Aimee. Mark has played a huge role in his community and has been reporting and editing on local and professional sports for quite some time.
Q: The Bengals sit at 3-3 and are currently tied for first in the division. Do you believe they will win the AFC North?
A: “I think the Bengals have the best overall team in the AFC North when they are all healthy, but they aren’t sneaking up on anyone this year and they still are struggling adjusting to what other teams have now figured out. This stretch of games before the bye will be crucial considering the back half of the schedule. Nine or 10 wins could easily win the division.”
Q: You mentioned that you used to have media credentials for the Bengals in the past. What was your favorite game that you attended?
A: “The games that I was in the press box for the Bengals don’t stick out, because it is such an isolated area. I did enjoy being in the postgame interview room with Peyton Manning after a Bengals-Broncos game. My fondest Bengals memories come from when I had season tickets. I was at the Freezer Bowl, the 1988 AFC title game, the night Corey Dillon broke the rushing record, and many more.”
Q: What do you believe Cincinnati needs to improve on to be playing playoff football again this season?
A: “Through six games, it is obvious that other teams in the AFC have gotten much better and the Bengals have yet to produce that magic that they had last year. To make the playoffs, they will need to start adjusting and preparing better for how other teams are now going to play them. Take what they give you and make it work, and run the ball inside the 5-yard line! The defense will be fine but they really need to get D.J. Reader back ASAP.”
Matthew McAdow is a Peebles resident. He works in human resources in the nuclear industry and has been an avid Cincinnati fan his entire life. He is an Ohio Christian University graduate and has always enjoyed giving an honest opinion on multiple topics regarding Cincinnati sports.