A.J. Green

USA Today

Thursday Night Football

Who are the Bengals?

September 14, 2018 - 9:53 am

I never want to jump to conclusions or rush to judgment based on a small sample size. You do that and you’ll find yourself slamming a crow sando. So I’m never one to make a declaration about an NFL team before the middle of September. That’s just dumb. It’s hair-trigger. And it’s stupid. 

But after watching last night’s Ravens-Bengals game, I have come to a conclusion: and I can say this. And I can say it right now.  In Week 2.  The Buffalo Bills are not good. And they might really be terrible. 

The Ravens smashed the Bills 47-3 on Sunday. And Baltimore got absolutely humiliated for the first 29 minutes last night against the Bengals. They fell behind 28-7 and could not get out of their own way on defense. 

But again, as I was watching it, I wasn’t thinking about the Ravens defense or the fact that Joe Flacco was looking very Flacco-ish and not at all elite. I wasn’t even thinking about whether or not the Ravens should just toss the keys to Lamar Jackson on a permanent basis. 

I was just thinking about the Bills. Because last night’s game says more about the Bills than it does the Ravens.

Against the Ravens defense on Sunday, the Buffalo Bills could not manage a first down in the first half. Against the same Ravens defense last night, the Cincinnati Bengals could not stop scoring.

Here’s Andy Dalton to AJ Green.

Oh, and here’s Andy Dalton to AJ Green.

And, stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Andy Dalton to AJ Green.

I’m no Wade Phillips, but after two touchdowns, I might start trying to cover AJ Green. Hell, the way he was playing, I might just tackle him at the line of scrimmage on every play and take the penalty. Because the Ravens had absolutely no shot at stopping Green in the first half.

He looked like a grown man who snuck onto the field in a Pop Warner game, busting free whenever he needed to, and shaking off Raven would-be tacklers like they were nothing. 

And those were the same Ravens who held the Bills to 153 yards. Not in a quarter. Or a half. Or three quarters. But for the whole game. And here they were getting carved up by the Red Rifle. The guy who was a hero in Buffalo for beating Baltimore last season, was reminding everyone just how bad the Bills are this year. 

It was a brutal half for the Ravens. They played like, they played like, I’m looking for a word here – oh, Eric Weddle has it for me. Crap. They played like crap. He tweeted as much after the game: ‘Can’t play like crap in a half on the road. Will be fine. Get back to work. Get better. Denver next.....’

And here’s the really weird thing. They did get better, during that game in fact. Because the same Ravens defense that gave up 4 touchdowns to Andy Dalton in the first half, forced punts on five straight possessions in the second half. 

So what does that mean? Did the Ravens figure something out? Did the Bengals luck into those touchdowns in the first half? Who are the Bengals? The juggernaut we saw in the first half or the scrubs in the second. And did the Ravens just gas out on a short week after spending all day punching the Bills in the face?   

I honestly have no idea. Because you can never make definitive statements this early in the season, especially after a Thursday night game. Those games are such crapshoots. 

So what I’m saying is, I have no idea how good the Cincinnati Bengals are. Just like have I have no idea how good the Baltimore Ravens are. But I do know the Buffalo Bills are awful. That’s the one thing I am sure of. And I know you are too, Bills mafia.