The Cincinnati Bengals are no longer a pushover in the AFC North.
Beyond that, they are no pushover anywhere in the NFL.
The Bengals look elite as they are off to a 5-2 start.
That explains their rise in the latest edition of NFL.com’s power rankings.
The Bengals have made the jump up from No. 11 to No. 7 after a beatdown of the Baltimore Ravens this past weekend.
That has Cincinnati as the second-highest ranked AFC team, behind only the Buffalo Bills at No. 3 overall.
.@stephenasmith would rather have Joe Burrow at QB than Lamar Jackson.
"Joe Burrow just appears to be on another level!" pic.twitter.com/VX1PZTHgJm
— First Take (@FirstTake) October 25, 2021
A Planned Turnaround
The Bengals knew they could succeed with a healthy Burrow under center.
Joe Burrow is a star and the Bengals are laughing at everyone who told them to pick a Lineman over Ja’Marr Chase
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) October 24, 2021
2020 ended up being a wash with his season-ending injury, turning the focus toward 2021.
Now the Bengals are handily beating a Super Bowl favorite in the Ravens, and the game was not particularly close at 41-17.
Zac Taylor’s offense is getting a lot of the credit and rightfully so.
Yet this defense has not allowed more than 25 points in a game this season and ranks fifth overall with 18.3 points allowed per game.
That has the Bengals leading the AFC North in both scoring offense and defense.
The Road Ahead
The Bengals get the New York Jets in Week 8, so fans should prepare for another easy victory.
After that comes a home showdown against the Cleveland Browns.
If the Bengals can take down the Browns and improve to 3-0 in the division to start the year, they will assert themselves as legitimate contenders in the second half of the season.
Even a loss to the Browns would not be the end of the world, rather, it would just keep a logjam in the division standings.
The Bengals entered the year with very little expectations from a national audience.
Yet those in the organization kept the faith and it has paid off.