It’s only been one game. And it was against a pretty mediocre club. But still, when you win week 1, it is the perfect beginning to a long NFL season. It was great to see the Bengals outlast the Vikings in an exciting overtime battle.
After opening up 0-2-1 a season ago, this was much better. Joe Burrow made some big plays and ultimately got his team a win. They were one of three AFC North clubs to open up with a win. Let’s talk Cincy.
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Joe Mixon is Still a Beast
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Joe Mixon had a dominant week 1 performance. He ran 29 times for 127 yards and a TD, while catching all four targets for 23 yards. That’s 150 yards on 33 touches for the standout running back. Mixon is looking like he’s going to have a monster campaign.
Injuries hampered him and limited him to just six games in 2020 after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. As long we see him reliably run the ball for this team week-to-week, there won’t be too much to worry about. Samaje Perine is a solid RB2 option, but he’s only good for a limited number of touches and snaps from game to game.
Ja’Marr Chase Can Catch the Ball
It is surprising and also not that Ja’Marr Chase went for over 100 receiving yards in his NFL debut. The team’s first-round pick was facing a lot of pressure to perform right away. And that is exactly what he did, now reunited with his old college QB.
Chase was catching passes from Joe Burrow at LSU two years ago, so the chemistry was pre-built. He caught five passes for 101 yards and a 50-yard TD, on seven targets. The deep balls will be coming all year long, just like Andy Dalton used to do with AJ Green in Cincy for the many years prior.
Burrow is learning how to win in the pros, and he’s got a guy in Chase here to make him look great. Look for the first-year WR to remain in the running for offensive rookie of the year until the season winds down.
The Pass Rush Looks Pretty Good
New defensive tackle BJ Hill was a big part of the frontline unit for the Bengals. They landed eight QB hits on Kirk Cousins, while coming up with five tackles for loss. Hill, formerly of the Giants, came up with a pair of sacks on the day.
The other was from Larry Ogunjobi, who spent the first four seasons of his career with the Browns. They continued to make life hard for Cousins, who could not deliver in OT. Sure, the secondary got burned by some talented guys. But they cracked down when they had to and stepped up.
You should never use the P word after one week of games. And the AFC is absolutely loaded. But the Bengals need to aim high. This one win should have them feeling like they are on top of the world. One win could lead to another, and so on.
With Chicago on the docket for week 2, a 2-0 beginning is very much in play.