The Cincinnati Bengals are coming into the 2021 season with some confidence. Quarterback Joe Burrow is back under center, something fans will be elated to see.
Burrow tore his ACL in a November 22nd matchup with the Washington Football Team. He was putting together an excellent season up to that point, as he completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 2,688 yards. He added 13 touchdowns with five interceptions but did absorb 32 sacks.
Protecting Burrow is of the utmost importance for the Bengals and they were unable to do it last season. This season, they will have to do a better job of it. If they are, the Bengals’ offense can be one of the better ones in the NFL.
Cincinnati used the No. 5 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on his former LSU teammate, Ja’Marr Chase, giving Burrow an excellent group of weapons. He will be joining elite slot receiver Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, who had a good rookie season in 2020.
Combined with a running game led by Joe Mixon and the Bengals are going to put up some points this season. However, they could find some difficulties in Week 1.
The Bengals are hosting the Minnesota Vikings for their season opener at Paul Brown Stadium. Being at home, the Bengals will be more comfortable, but they will be facing off with a revamped Vikings defense.
Last season, Minnesota set a franchise-low with only 23 sacks. They couldn’t put pressure on the quarterback, which played a part in them finishing the season 27th in the NFL in yards allowed. They allowed a score on 50 percent of their possessions, which was second-worst behind only the Las Vegas Raiders.
In the offseason, they did their best to ensure that wouldn’t happen again. They added veterans Sheldon Richardson and Dalvin Tomlinson to their defensive front. Patrick Peterson, Bashaud Breeland and Mackensie Alexander were signed to shore up the secondary.
Those moves, coupled with better luck when it comes to injuries, will result in a bounceback season for the Vikings’ defense. Mike Zimmer is one of the best defensive minds in the game and he will have his team ready to go Week 1.
Burrow and the Bengals will find a little success as teams knock off some rust and work out the kinks from limited preseason snaps, but it will not be a cakewalk against Minnesota as it was in 2020.
Looking to knock off some rust of his own and returning from ACL surgery, Burrow’s expectations need to be tempered in Week 1, as he will have a pedestrian game to start the season.