The Cardiac Cats Live: Victory over the Bills May Symbolize More to Come
The Buffalo Bills entered Sunday's game against the Bengals on top of the world. The Bills had the most explosion offense in the NFL and were riding off a dramatic comeback victory against New England, and some even had them in talks for Super Bowl contenders.
The Bengals quieted all of those discussions with a 23-20 comeback victory.
Bengals showed a lot of resilience in a tough, hard victory on their home turf. This win also gave reasons for Bengals' fans to be excited for the next few years, despite having Mike Brown as our owner.
Bengal's Defense Is No Fluke
The Bengals came into the game ranked third in total defense, second in sacks, fifth in passing defense and seventh in rushing defense. After facing a top-ranked Buffalo offense, they proved that they were legit.
The Bengals' defense limited the powerful Bills offense to just under 300 total yards, and just 13 offensive points (Bills defense scored on a interception return). The defensive line has managed to create major pressure on every QB they've face in the first four weeks, allowing the second-fewest points in the NFL. The Bengals defense has kept them in the every game, which takes a lot of pressure off the offense when you do not have to put up 30 points every week to win.
With defensive masterminds Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer calling the shots on defense, Rey Mualuga, Geno Atkins and Leon Hall leading the way, this defense can go very far.
Their sole weakness seems to be their inability to produce turnovers. But honestly, that will come with more opportunity and improvement.
The Offense Is Full of Playmakers
The Bengals' offense is a run-first, west coast offense that has been incorporated by new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. While the offensive is most certainly the weak link so far into this season, there is plenty of reason to be excited for this team.
To start, the Bengals have shown that they are remarkably deep at the WR position. A.J. Green, Andre Caldwell, and Jerome Simpson are all very capable, though young, receivers.
Injured receiver Jordan Shipley has also shown to have great potential in the slot position, constantly gaining comparisons to Wes Welker. The Bengals also have a rising star in Andrew Hawkins, who caught two big passes in the Bengals's victory over the Bills. Let's not forget Jermaine Gresham, who is Andy's security blanket early in the season.
Andy Dalton is experiencing some growing pains throughout his young career, but has shown a tremendous amount of poise, leadership and most importantly energy that this team has lacked in seasons past.
The Red Rifle has shown glimpse of what could be the next great QB-WR tandem in Dalton to Green.
Lastly, Cedric Benson has provided an powerful running-back in the backfield. The Bengals are 2-0 when he rushes for 100 yards this season. Not to mention that the speedy Scott and huge playmaker Brian Leonard give the Bengals multiple dimensions to their run game.
Throw in more aggressive play-calling, and this offense is a year or so away from potentially becoming a perennial force in the NFL.
The Bengals Might Catch the Steelers and Ravens While They Are Rebuilding
Now hear me out on this one.
The Ravens are looking like a force of nature at the moment, but the Bengals have had their number overall, and Ray Lewis and Ed Reed could be retiring any year now.
Pittsburgh on the other hand has already started their decline. Their run defense has become atrocious and which in turn exposes their very average pass defense. When you factor in the age of these defenses as well as the injuries they are taking, the end of this all-star group of defensive players may very well be near.
With both of these teams built to be defense-first teams, the Bengals could exploit them in the next year or so. With neither team exactly built to engage in a shootout, with the Bengals offense clicking on all cylinders and the defense slowing these teams down, the Bengals may have a shot to steal the division from under their noses.
The issues with this is this is assuming that the Ravens and Steelers don't restock on talent quick enough at defense, and Andy Dalton and the offense grow quick enough to take advantage of that fact. Both of those are iffy at the moment, but not impossible.
There's also the issue that Cleveland is also gaining ground, so the Bengals will have not have an easy cruise even if the Ravens and Steelers hit a speed bump along the way. However, the possibly might very well present itself.
Special Teams Aren't Costing Them Games
Now this may sound silly, but for the Bengals it's a huge success.
The Bengals have been nicknamed the "Bungles" by those outside the Queen City, mainly for the reasons that no matter how good they are, they find ways to lose. Botched snaps, tipped-passes, and absolute collapses across the board have plagued this team for awhile now.
When the offense was bad, the defense was good. When the defense was bad, the offense was good. When they were both good, special teams were horrid.
Now, the Bengals finally have a reliable special teams unit. A kicker who can hit the "clutch" field goal. A punter who can pin the opponent deep down field. A long snapper who can...well snap the ball. Sure Brandon Tate leaves much to desire returning the ball, but at least he is holding onto the ball.
Regardless, special teams isn't digging the team into a hole unlike in the past, which will certainly help keep them in games.
This Is a Young Football Team
This can be both bad and good.
Bad because it can lead to a lot of bone-head mistakes and lack of playoff experience. Good because it means this team has a few years to improve, and can add pieces to only get better.
With youth and a bunch of talent, and some great coaching around, this team will have a great chance to storm onto the scene as an elite team in upcoming years.