Cincinnati Bengals Post-Bye Storylines to Watch

Cincinnati Bengals Post-Bye Storylines to Watch

Willie Lutz
2 years ago
3 min read
Cincinnati Bengals Post-Bye Storylines to Watch

Taking a 5-4 record into their bye week was already ideal for the Cincinnati Bengals. However, a choppy AFC and some exciting wins along the way are bringing a lot of excitement about the next eight games for the Queen City. 

While the team has a lot to prove and improve in the second half, there’s a lot of momentum going in their favor. 

Certainly, Joe Burrow alone brings excitement to the once-sliding franchise. Now, his infusion of leadership and character into these Bengals has Cincinnati buzzing about a playoff chase.  

Can Ja’Marr Chase out-race Mac Jones for the Offensive Rookie of the Year trophy?

After Justin Jefferson was beaten to the finish line by Justin Herbert in last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year race, Chase and Jones are set for their own quarterback-wide receiver dual. 

Sure, the two won’t match-up head-to-head (at least in the regular season), but with both firmly in the playoff hunt, it’s conceivable that the team with the better record could end up helping their player’s award case. 

Currently, Chase is posting record-breaking stats as a rookie, compiling 835 yards and seven touchdowns through his first nine games. 

Jones, on the other hand, started somewhat slow, but is starting to stack up quite the resume. 

Through ten games, Jones has 2,333 yards, 13 touchdown passes, and seven interceptions while leading the New England Patriots to a 6-4 record. 

What looked like a run-away for Ja’Marr Chase earlier this year now looks to be one of the more thrilling award races to watch as this season turns its corner. 

Who Can Hold Down the CB2 Spot Down the Stretch?

A statement that won’t offend any Bengals fan? Eli Apple shouldn’t start another game at cornerback this season unless it’s an emergency. 

What started off as a good story for the fallen-from-grade first-round corner has turned into a major liability with Apple as a starter. 

However, it seems that he could be out of a starting spot after the bye. In recent weeks, the Bengals have landed starting-level corners on the waiver wire in Tre Flowers and Vernon Hargreaves III. 

Sure, it would be ideal for the team to be getting Trae Waynes back into a starting role.

The big problem? He’s appeared in just three games since signing with the Bengals ahead of the 2020 season. With a hamstring injury holding him out, for now, it’s far from a sure bet that Waynes will ever play in a Bengals uniform again. 

Unless Wayne's magically re-appears, it seems like it’ll be up to Hargreaves and/or Flowers to take over the team’s CB2 depth chart spot. 

Both have received some praise from the coaching staff, but it’ll be an interesting watch this week in Bengals practice to see who emerges as their starter. 

Can The Bengals Win the Rollercoaster AFC North?

If there’s one thing that’s been revealed about the AFC North through ten weeks, it’s that any of its four teams can take home the crown.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, it’s familiar territory. On the other hand, the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns haven’t enjoyed the same fate in recent seasons.

Emerging from the bye in third place within the division, the Bengals have done themselves some favors. 

Their road win over the Steelers and marquee whooping of the Ravens gave them two key wins, but their thumping at home from the Browns put the club at 2-1.

Currently, FiveThirtyEight gives the Bengals the second-best playoff odds in the AFC North at 39%, but increase to 70% with wins over the Las Vegas Raiders and Steelers over the next two weeks. 

Regardless of those two outcomes, the Bengals are squarely in the playoff mix and one notch outside of a Wild Card spot ahead of Week 11. 

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