The Cincinnati Bengals put a lot of pressure on themselves heading into the 2013 season when they appeared on the HBO series Hard Knocks during training camp. So far, they have lived up to the expectations they put on themselves.
A Wild Card team in the AFC each of the past two seasons, the Bengals have failed to win, or even host, a playoff game in the Andy Dalton era. Things appear to be changing this year as we hit the midseason mark.
The Bengals are now 6-2 and in control of an AFC North division that is having a relatively down season as a whole. Cincinnati appears to easily be the most complete roster in North, and arguably one of the top two teams in the entire AFC.
On Sunday they proved just how good they can be. The Bengals played host to the New York Jets and simply manhandled them from kickoff to the final whistle on their way to a 49-9 victory.
Rex Ryan and his Jets were riding high off of a win over their rival New England Patriots a week earlier, a team who Cincinnati also has defeated this year, but never were able to find an answer for the Bengals attack.
Once considered a weak spot on the roster, Andy Dalton is as hot right now as he has been at any point in his young career. Three straight games of a 100 plus quarterback rating to go along with at least 300 yards passing and three touchdowns to be exact. The Red Rifle is sizzling hot right now.
Against the Jets, Dalton led a Bengals passing attack that tossed five touchdowns, including four to Marvin Jones. The four scores by Jones was a Bengals record, while Dalton’s five TDs made him just the third Bengal quarterback to hit that mark.
And this was just the offensive half of the game. Throughout the year the Bengals have had one of the best defensive units in the game, and today was no different. A red hot Geno Smith quickly became ice cold as he was confused and beat up throughout this game.
After being sacked three times and tossing two interceptions, Smith was pulled from the game to avoid injury. On top of not giving up a touchdown to the Jets, the Bengals allowed only 240 yards of total offense. Ridiculous numbers in today’s offense happy NFL.
With a complete effort like this, the Bengals have shown the world that they are for real.
Next up is a Thursday Night Football contest against a reeling Miami Dolphins team that has now dropped four straight after beginning the season 3-0. A win in that game would complete a perfect 4-0 sweep of the AFC East for Cincinnati.
If they can keep playing like they have been over the past month, there aren’t many teams that can keep up with this Cincinnati Bengals team.
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express