Maturity is the name of the game for these Cincinnati Bengals. They’ve been blowing expectations out of the water in 2021. Their hot 5-2 start came to a head last week with a 41-17 dismantling of the Ravens in Baltimore. This week, they draw a struggling New York Jets team coming off an embarrassing 54-13 loss to the 3-4 New England Patriots..
For the most part, everyone expects the Bengals to handle business against the 1-5 New York Jets this week. Per the Athletic, they open as 10.5 point favorites on the road. That’s the first time since Week 9 of the strike-shortened 1982 season they’ve been double digit favorites on the road. If you listen to the hype, you’ll be convinced it’s a foregone conclusion they’ll come away with their third win in a row on Sunday.
Don’t tell Joe Mixon that.
“We know what team we’re going up against,” Mixon told Cincinnati Media. “Trust me, we’re not sleeping on them.”
You couldn’t really blame them if they did. The Jets haven’t scored a single point in the first quarter all season. They currently rank 30th in passing yards (1370), 32nd in rushing yards (432), 32nd in total touchdowns (9), 32nd in interceptions (0), and 31st in rushing touchdowns allowed (11). This isn’t exactly the 2007 New England Patriots they’ll be facing.
Regardless, the Bengals are displaying incredible maturity and an ability to handle success many young teams lack. Fans might already be looking ahead to a big game with the Browns in two weeks. But, the players shouldn’t, and aren’t.
“The biggest thing is staying focused,” Larry Ogunjobi told Bengals.com. “A lot of times the noise starts happening but it can flip just like that. The biggest thing is staying focused, handling our business, and take it one week at a time.”
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with fans feeling comfortable with the Bengals’ chances to win this coming week. You want the players to stay focused, because they’re the ones who have to go up against 46 other dudes who are paid to play football.
“Ain’t nothing gonna be easy,” Mixon said. “We know what type of game it’s going to be. We’ve been in that position where we’re 0 – and – whatever, but at the end of the day we’re coming into a dogfight. We know what we’re going to get from them and we’re not just going to go in there sleeping on any team because we know what they’re capable of.”
The Bengals have seen a lot of sudden success this year. It’s good to see them handling that success and showing their maturity the right way. Instead of letting it go to their heads, these Bengals are still grinding each and every week. They don’t take anybody for granted. That’s the sign of a well-balanced team. Not only are they well coached, but the veteran leadership is shining through. It’s why so many feel this success is sustainable, rather than a flash in the pan.