Few sports fans would have predicted this, but we’re actually in a situation where a Cincinnati Bengals title challenge is not at all out of the question. Offensively, there is no stronger team than Cincinnati in the NFL right now, and that has to be respected. The Bengals have a poor history of disappointing in postseason, but for now it’s impossible to ignore their dominant performances in the early weeks of the new season. They have the most offensive touchdowns out of any team and are also around the top of every other offensive leaderboard you can imagine. Their recent wins against the Seahawks and the Bills have extended their very impressive unbeaten run and the team show no signs of slowing down yet. Let’s take a look at a few of the top factors that have been involved in the Bengals surge to the top.
The first, and perhaps most obvious reason for the Bengals’ brilliance is Andy Dalton. The signal caller has endured mixed fortunes in the past, with many critics claiming he tends to falter in the bigger games. The stats exist to back up these claims, but nobody can argue against Dalton being one of the standout performers of the NFL season so far. The 27-year old quarterback has been putting up some incredible statistics, with a 67.2 pass completion percentage and a 9-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio being some of the highlights of his season to date. He is also averaging 296.8 passing yards per game and these sorts of numbers put him right up alongside the best players in the business like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. His passing has been so efficient that some fans and analysts are already talking about Dalton’s chances of being crowned MVP.
Obviously, there are many games still to play this season and time will tell whether or not Dalton can maintain his excellent form. However, all of the elements are in place for him to have the finest season of his career so far. The signal caller has shown steady improvement over the last few years, but the leap in quality of his performances from last season to this has been overwhelming. Dalton seems to have majorly worked on several important aspects of his game, including his awareness and foresight. In recent weeks, he has been picking and completing passes that he simply wouldn’t have been able to pull off before. The timing of his throws has been impeccable and, if he can continue playing this way in the weeks and months to come, the Bengals will be able to boast of one of the most-improved players in recent NFL history.
Another man who can take some credit for the Bengals’ incredible performances is undoubtedly Hue Jackson. The offensive coordinator has really stepped up this season, putting his creative mind to use in developing some of the most effective plays we’ve seen from any team in the NFL this season. The 49-year-old tactician has a solid history and a great understanding of the game, and many Bengals fans will be very appreciative of his presence with the team. He worked wonders at Oakland, using tactics that involved lots of backs overwhelming the opposition. He even managed to improve the Raiders’ passing game despite the absence of a genuine playmaker.
The coordinator has taken his experience and put it to work with the Bengals. Obviously, the players he has at his disposal certainly help to make his job easier. With Dalton in top form and plenty of exciting players all around the field like Tyler Eifert, Jeremy Hill, A.J. Green and many others, Jackson has all of the potent ingredients necessary to put his powerful offensive plays into practice. What’s most impressive is that Jackson seems to have analyzed the entire squad and identified ways in which he can allow them all to play at the top of their games. Jackson knows that Dalton is good from the shotgun, so he designed a system that works for the signal caller. He also knows that Hill excels at running between tackles in strong plays, so Jackson calls plays that work for the RB. No matter which player you name from the Bengals’ lineup, Jackson has analyzed them and identified their strengths to help the team.
Our final point in an attempt to explain the explosiveness of the Bengals this season is quite simply that they have the best offensive line in the NFL. Other teams, the Cowboys being a notable example, can boast of various star players who light up stadiums with their skills, but the Bengals have the most consistent and effective set of offensive players out there right now. The unity and teamwork on show from the likes of Boling, Bodine, Whitworth, Zeitler and Smith has been outstanding. They’ve allowed Dalton to do what he does best and created huge opportunities for their speedy wide players. The unit has allowed just two sacks so far and has protected the signal caller again and again. With such a powerful offensive line, the rest of the team has so much more freedom to play the game at their own rhythm, and this is a huge part of why the Bengals are the team to watch in the NFL right now.