The Cincinnati Bengals aren't the same team without Joe Burrow behind center but that doesn't mean the Jacksonville Jaguars let their guard down when they face them in Week 13. Although the Jags are an 8.5-point favorite entering the Monday Night Football bout, Cincinnati still has a handful of players, including wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, who could give them trouble.
Heading into the game, I reached out to Leigh Oleszczak of Stripe Hype, Fansided's site dedicated to the Cincinnati Bengals, to ask her about the current state of the team. While Leigh noted that losing Joe Burrow for the season was a huge season, she talked about their strengths and a few players to keep an eye on in Week 13. Here's my conversation with Leigh.
Q. What's the Bengals' biggest strength, whas is their biggest weakness?
Leigh: The Bengals' biggest strength is their ability to turn the football over in key moments. Their defense gives up a ton of explosive plays but even in doing so this past week, they only allowed the Steelers to score 16 points. One time when the Steelers' offense was close to scoring, the Bengals forced a takeaway and prevented Pittsburgh from scoring and that's been their mo throughout the season.
Their biggest weakness -- take your pick, honestly. Between their lack of run game and their inability to stop the run, this team has had major issues that are now going to be highlighted with Joe Burrow out.
Q: What are realistic expectations for Cincy in 2023 after the Joe Burrow injury?
Leigh: They might win one or two more games but they're not making the playoffs. Truthfully, I'm not sure they'd have made the postseason even with a healthy Burrow so they're definitely not making it now. At this point, the bright spot of this lost season is that they'll get an easier schedule next year and will have a higher draft pick.
Q: Who is a player on the Bengals' roster that people aren't talking about but should be?
Leigh: They have two really good rookies in their secondary: D.J. Turner and Jordan Battle. The defense as a whole hasn't been all that great this season but these two have played well and give fans hope for the future.
Q: Who would be the Bengals MVP without Joe Burrow in the fold?
Leigh: Ja'Marr Chase, easily. Have you seen the catches this guy makes?
Q: The Bengals have lost 6 games this season because _____.
Leigh: A lot of things, really. Joe Burrow's injuries throughout the season and the defensive performance is probably the biggest factor. Burrow wasn't healthy in those first four games and the defense couldn't bail the team out. Then the team finally started to find its footing and now Burrow is done for the year. Just not Cincinnati's year, man.
Q: In one sentence, tell us how you think this game might go.
Leigh: The Bengals continue to give up explosive plays while the offense can't move the ball well, allowing Jacksonville to win pretty easily.
Q: Give us a score prediction.
This game would have been a lot more fun had it been Burrow vs. Lawrence but sadly, we won't get to see that. I'm giving this to Jacksonville but the Bengals might make it more interesting in the final few minutes. 27-17 Jags
The Bengals' defense has limited opponents (including the San Francisco 49ers, and the Buffalo Bills) to 20 points or fewer three of the past five weeks. If they can hold the Jaguars under 20, this could indeed turn out to be an interesting matchup.
For all-around coverage of the Bengals heading into the game, make sure you check Leigh's work at Stripe Hype.