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Why the Cincinnati Bengals Are Super Bowl Contenders

FlurrySports

Every Monday during the NFL season, after a full slate of unpredictable outcomes on Sunday, analysts and fans love to overreact. Narratives change on a weekly basis on which teams are contenders and which teams are pretenders. One narrative that is not an overreaction is that the Cincinnati Bengals are a legitimate contender.

They are coming off of a 41-17 domination against the former number one seed and division rival Baltimore Ravens, in Baltimore. Joe Burrow threw for a career-high 416 passing yards along with three touchdowns. Standout rookie wide receiver, Ja’Marr Chase, secured eight catches for 201 yards and a score. While the defense sacked Lamar Jackson five times, which ties for the most times he has been sacked in his career.

The Bengals sit at 5-2, with wins at Pittsburgh and at Baltimore with a combined score of 65-27. In previous seasons, the Bengals could never get over the hump and beat those two teams, especially on the road.

Burrow has brought new life into this organization. He is still not even 100% healthy, after being only 11 months removed from tearing multiple ligaments in his knee. Burrow continues to improve on a weekly basis behind a much improved offensive line. Joe Mixon has been a benefactor behind the improved offensive line as well, ranking third in the NFL in rushing yards.

There are numerous contributing factors to the early success of the Cincinnati Bengals, but none are more evident than the addition of Chase.

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Ja'Marr ChaseCredit: Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Why the Cincinnati Bengals Are Super Bowl Contenders

Ja’Marr Chase is Making History

Chase is running away with Offensive Rookie of the Year, and he continues to shatter receiving records. He has 754 receiving yards on the season through his first seven career games, which is more than any other player in NFL history. That number is also good for second in the NFL in receiving yards, behind Cooper Kupp.

The rookie averages 21.5 yards per catch, which is second in the NFL behind DJ Chark, who played four games before suffering a season-ending injury. He has proved to be one of the best deep-ball receivers in the NFL, and the chemistry that he and Burrow had in college has carried over.

Defenses are paying more attention to him now, and the Ravens threw one of the best cornerbacks in the league at him in Marlon Humphrey, which didn’t faze Chase one bit.

Adding Chase to this offense has brought a dynamic that they were severely lacking last season. While all the attention has gone to Burrow and Chase, the defense has quietly been one of the best groups in the NFL.

Ja’Marr Chase High School Highlights

Bengals’ Revamped Defense

The Bengals made it a point of emphasis to upgrade the defense in the offseason. The biggest addition was defensive end Trey Hendrickson, who has been a force rushing the passer. He is tied for fourth in the NFL with 6.5 sacks, to go along with five tackles for loss.

Chidobe Awuzie was the top corner that the Bengals added this year and he has shown flashes of being a shutdown number one corner. Mike Hilton has also been a massive upgrade at the nickel corner spot.

The Bengals have the fifth-best scoring defense and eighth-best rushing defense in the NFL. There were massive questions regarding defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo going into the season, but he has shown how great he can be as a coordinator. The biggest bright spot on defense could be second-year linebacker Logan Wilson. He is second in the NFL with four interceptions, and linebacker was one of the weakest position groups on the roster last season, but he has put that concern to rest.

The Cincinnati Bengals have a long and tough road ahead, but the confidence that Burrow instills in this franchise and fan base is something this organization has not seen in a very long time. They are in first place in the AFC North, along with being the number one seed in the entire AFC. This Bengals team is different from years past and they have the talent on both sides of the ball to compete with anyone in the NFL.

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