Just go ahead and admit it. You didn't think the Cincinnati Bengals were legit after their 4-2 start.
But you still didn't believe, did you? After all, they were the Bengals.
You sure believe now.
By going into Baltimore and winning, the Bengals would have made believers out of many. By going into Baltimore and beating the Ravens 41-17 Sunday, they should see a bunch of folks jumping on the bandwagon.
The Bengals are legitimate. One more thing: If the playoffs started today — I know you hate that phrase — the Bengals would be the top seed in the AFC playoffs, which is not something many expected to say seven games into the regular season.
It was that other team in Ohio, the Cleveland Browns, who most expected to be the team leading the division, or even the Ravens. But at 5-2, it's the Bengals who are in first, which has them up to No. 7 in my Power Rankings this week.
Winning is one thing, but it's the way they did it that has opened a lot of eyes. Burrow threw for a career-best 416 yards and three touchdowns. He's the only quarterback to throw for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns against the Ravens in Baltimore. Chase had eight catches for 201 yards and a touchdown and made the Baltimore secondary look silly at times.
But it's the defense that shouldn't' be overlooked. It sacked Lamar Jackson five times and hit him a bunch more in beating him for the first time in six tries. The Bengals spent money this off-season to improve the defense, and so far it's working. They have 19 sacks on the season with many of those players having a major impact on that number with free agent signee Trey Hendrickson leading the team with 5.5 sacks.
When Burrow was drafted in April 2020, I said on our broadcast that night that the Bengals would win at least one Super Bowl in the next 10 years. That's what I thought of him as a quarterback.
That timetable, after his knee injury last season, seemed to be pushed back a year or two. But seven games into this season, it's back on track. And this season has a playoff look to it so far.
The Bengals still have two games with the Browns, one more each with the Ravens and Steelers, but three of the four will be at home. The Bengals are the favorites in the division right now.
Can you believe it? You had better.
|They continue to win games, but that will be put to a real test Thursday against the Packers. Kyler Murray is taking too many shots.||--||4-7-0|
|Despite a lot of injuries on defense, they keep winning games. That defense will be challenged in a big way by the Cardinals this week. They might not have Davante Adams, which will hurt.||--||4-7-0|
|It wasn't pretty against the Lions, but they found a way. That's the sign of a good team, winning games when things don't go your way.||--||3-7-0|
|The Tampa Bay offense will be tough to stop for any team. They do get a tough challenge against the Saints this week on the road.||--||5-5-0|
|The health of Dak Prescott bears watching as he comes off the bye with a calf issue. They face a tough road trip to Minnesota Sunday night.||--||8-3-0|
|They face the Miami Dolphins in a division game this week, which sure doesn't have the same feel we thought it would before the season. The Dolphins might be the tonic the Bills need to get past the Titans loss.||1||8-3-0|
|That victory over the Ravens should have them gaining confidence by the week. This is a young team that will only get better.||5||6-4-0|
|That was an impressive showing against the Chiefs. If the defense can play like that the rest of the way, they will push for a Super Bowl with Derrick Henry leading the offense.||5||7-3-0|
|So much for the idea they would run away with the division. They were manhandled by the Bengals, which is not a good look.||3||7-3-0|
|The Chargers had two weeks to stew over their poor showing against the Ravens. Now they get the Patriots at home, which will be fun seeing Justin Herbert against Bill Belichick.||2||5-5-0|
|They are 2-0 without Jon Gruden. This group seems to have rallied after Gruden's scandalous resignation. Derek Carr is playing well.||--||3-7-0|
|As they get healthier, they are getting better. The defense was dominant against Seattle. Now here comes Tom Brady.||3||4-7-0|
|Winning with a backup quarterback is always a challenge, but they met it head on last Thursday. Now comes a key division game with the Steelers.||1||3-7-0|
|They evened their record at 3-3 two weeks ago, but now face a proving game of sorts at home against the Cowboys. It's time for Kirk Cousins to show out in a big game.||1||9-2-0|
|They come off their bye week with a big division game against the Browns at Cleveland. The Steelers seemed to find something in winning two straight before the bye.||1||3-7-0|
|That was a tough, ugly win at San Francisco, but one they had to have. This week they face a huge division game with the Titans.||1||4-6-1|
|It's amazing they are down this low. The defense is awful, but the offense isn't doing anything either. They have a must-win game this week against the Giants. Can Patrick Mahomes get it going?||7||8-2-0|
|It's too bad they can't play the Jets every week. They own them and they usually make them look like a playoff team. It's a big step up in competition this week with a road trip to play the Chargers.||6||6-5-0|
|At 3-3, with a winnable game against the Panthers this week, they have really turned their season around. Matt Ryan is playing well and Kyle Pitts is emerging as a game-changing tight end.||6||5-6-0|
|They are limited on offense by their quarterback play, which is why they are 2-4. In a division with two really good teams, their season is teetering on the verge of being done.||2||6-4-0|
|Sam Darnold is having big-time issues after his fast start. They can't protect him either, which doesn't help.||3||3-8-0|
|Justin Fields is having his growing pains, but it's the right thing to keep him in the lineup. What's the point of taking him out?||3||3-8-0|
|They battled against the Saints, but they don't do enough on offense without Russell Wilson. They can forget about any division title now - and probably the playoffs.||3||6-4-0|
|The injuries are really impacting the defense now, and that showed up in the loss to Cleveland. They are undermanned in the front seven and the offense isn't good enough.||3||3-7-0|
|The defense came up big in the victory over Carolina. It had to with all the offensive injuries. Now they face the Chiefs on the road on Monday night.||2||7-4-0|
|They suddenly have questions about whether Jalen Hurts should stay in as quarterback. I think he should just to find out about the future.||3||9-1-0|
|It's becoming so obvious that they can't win games without a franchise quarterback. But that won't come anytime this season. The playoffs are done.||1||6-5-0|
|They come off their bye with a long trip to Seattle. But after winning two weeks ago, the young team might be gaining some confidence. Not facing Russell Wilson is a big break.||--||3-7-0|
|With one victory, they are the biggest disappointment in the league this season. Tua Tagovailoa wasn't the problem against the Falcons. The defense and offensive line were the problems.||--||7-3-0|
|They are so undermanned right now that they can't compete. When does Deshaun Watson get traded? Anybody else going with him?||--||1-8-1|
|They almost pulled off a shocker against the Rams on the road. They play hard and tough, which is a good sign for the future.||1||4-7-0|
|I don't care that they beat the Titans. They are the worst team in the NFL, especially with Zach Wilson out for a while. It's Mike White time now.||1||6-4-0|