Zac Taylor on Bengals' Potential: 'I Don't Think Anybody Wants to Play Us'

Adam WellsDecember 15, 2021

CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 12: Ja'Marr Chase #1 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after a 50-yard touchdown reception from Joe Burrow #9 during the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Paul Brown Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Despite losing their last two games and falling to ninth place in the AFC playoff standings, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor remains optimistic about his team's ability to rebound. 

Taylor told reporters why he doesn't think "anybody wants to play us" down the stretch and in a potential postseason matchup. 

"And we haven't won all the games that we felt like we should've won," he said. "But I think our guys have a ton of confidence, and people see what they're about, see the talent we've got in all three phases, and see that we're going to fight to the last second."

This season has been a mixed bag overall for the Bengals. They have shown tremendous upside with blowout wins over the Pittsburgh Steelers (twice, including a 41-10 victory in Week 12) and Baltimore Ravens (41-17 in Week 7). 

But the Bengals also have some frustrating and inexplicable losses on their resume. One week after the victory over Baltimore, they lost 34-31 to the New York Jets in a game that Mike White threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns against their defense. 

During its current two-game losing streak, Cincinnati has shown both its good and bad tendencies. It fell behind 24-0 early in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers before scoring 22 unanswered points to make it a two-point game midway through the third quarter. 

The Chargers closed the game by scoring 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to earn a 41-22 win. 

Sunday's overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers might be their most disappointing defeat of the season. Darius Phillips muffed two punts in the first half to set up two 49ers scoring drives, including a late second-quarter touchdown that extended the lead to 17-3. 

Joe Burrow led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives to tie the score at 20.

The Bengals got a field goal on the first possession of overtime, but San Francisco drove 75 yards in seven plays and got the game-winning touchdown from Brandon Aiyuk. 

Sunday's loss left the Bengals with a 7-6 record, but just one game behind the Ravens atop the AFC North. Those two teams meet in Cincinnati on Dec. 26. 

Despite their record, the Bengals have an exciting offense capable of scoring with anyone in the NFL. Burrow's chemistry with Ja'Marr Chase has translated perfectly from LSU into the NFL. The rookie receiver has already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark, and he's tied for third in the league with 10 touchdown catches. 

Tee Higgins has turned into a fantastic No. 2 option with 812 receiving yards. Joe Mixon has 1,036 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. 

As long as the Bengals can avoid making the kinds of mistakes that cost them against the 49ers, they still have all the pieces in place to make noise in a crowded AFC playoff race.