The Cincinnati Bengals had an incredible run in 2021. It’s safe to say that quarterback Joe Burrow found his rhythm this past season that enabled one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. This year’s schedule will be even more demanding. If Burrow and his company plan to track it back, they’ll have to face some challenging countermeasures.
Let’s look at five of the best defenses the Bengals will face.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference
5. Baltimore Ravens
Remember how the Ravens put big numbers on Bengals in 2020? Well, the stripes got their revenge last season. In two games, Burrow and his trio of receivers outplayed the Ravens 82-38. These victories made it clear that the Bengals had arrived and allowed them to win the AFC North Division.
Defensively, Baltimore struggled for most of last year between injuries, COVID-19 protocol, losing Marlon Humphrey for most of the season, and losing Marcus Peters and Derek Wolfe for the entire season. This offseason, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh focused on improving his defense.
The Ravens selected versatile Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton with their first-round pick in the draft. With Humphrey and Peters set to return, plus free safety Marcus Williams and now rookie Kyle Hamilton, the Ravens should have one of the better secondaries the Bengals will face. Burrow will put this group to the test which will be exciting for a Bengal fan to watch.
Strengthening their defensive line saw Baltimore take a chance in the second round against Michigan’s David Ojabo, a top contender, despite recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. In the third round, defensive tackle Travis Jones was selected by UConn to join veterans Calais Campbell, Michael Pierce and Derek Wolfe, making this a solid line. However, Bengals Joe Mixon behind his new offensive line will make them make their money.
During the Full Send podcast, Joe Burrow was recently asked who one of the biggest trash talkers is, and he said it’s none other than the herd up north.
[The Ravens] talk. I love that. I threw for 520-something on the second and I threw for 400-something on the first. … Yes, I love playing the Ravens. They like to talk. I don’t start talking. But if someone nudges me, I can talk a little.
One can’t help but wonder if Burrow’s success against the Ravens caused them to change defensive coordinators. Still, this should be a barn burner.