Ranking All 13 NFL Alternate Helmets

This season, the NFL has allowed teams to have more than one colored helmet to wear. The rule change saw 13 NFL franchises introduce new helmets for their alternate uniforms.

Before I begin, I want to clarify what I ranked these helmets based on. There were three factors that went into my ranking: 1. Does the helmet itself look good? 2. Does the helmet fit with the rest of the uniform? 3. Could the team have done more with the helmet? With that in mind, here is my ranking for these new helmets.

The New NFL Alternate Helmets: 13-6

Chicago Bears alternate helmet for the 2022 NFL season
Photo Credit: Jacob Funk/Chicago Bears

13. Chicago Bears

I attend a school that wears orange helmets with its orange uniforms. It doesn’t work too well. Same thing goes for the Bears. The traditional navy helmet works so much better with any of Chicago’s jerseys, especially its orange one. This alternate helmet is a miss for one of the NFL’s most iconic teams.

12. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals messed up big time with their new helmets. Arizona plans to wear these with its color rush uniforms. The red pops out with the black real well with those, so why not do the same with the helmets? If these had a red face mask, this could’ve been one of the better helmets. But instead, they go with a bland, black design.

11. Washington Commanders

I’m glad that Washington didn’t leave the “numbers on the helmet” look behind when it rebranded. However, the execution this time around feels poor. The “W” in the front doesn’t sit well. Maybe a stripe, like the Commanders’ primary helmets, would’ve been better. This helmet isn’t bad by any means, but ten other teams did a better job than Washington.

10. Carolina Panthers

This one might have to grow on me a bit. I like the all black concept the Panthers created, but this helmet feels almost too dark. From the photos, it’s difficult to see the Panthers logo. The colors mesh well together, but nothing pops out to the eye.

9. Houston Texans

The helmet itself is one of the best that have been introduced. What’s upsetting is the Texans plan to wear these with their red uniforms, according to gridiron-uniforms.com. These would look significantly better with their blue-with-red-lettering color rush jerseys. The all-red look Houston plans to wear doesn’t sit with me well.

8. New Orleans Saints

The Saints introduced a new look this offseason, and it’s not bad. The fleur-de-lis down the middle helps this helmet represents New Orleans well, and black and gold go together like bread and butter. However, nothing about this helmet stands out; it’s a bit bland. Maybe a gold face mask would help?

7. New York Jets

Now we’re getting to the helmets I really like. The Jets’ nailed this one. New York’s black uniforms look even better with this helmet. The green on the logo and face mask (take note, Cardinals) pop out and give the uniform more vibrance.

6. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles kept their helmet change simple, and I’m all for it. They switched from an already-fresh midnight green and black look to a more fitting all black uniform. A slight change for the better.

NFL Alternate Helmets: The Top 5

Dallas Cowboys bring back the alternate uniforms and helmets for 2022
Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

5. Dallas Cowboys

The Thanksgiving uniforms worn in the late 2000s and early 2010s are iconic. Dallas finally gets the chance to bring them back this year. The simplicity of the helmet gives the Cowboys an old school look, something that somewhat resembles a cowboy. The white pops out with the rest of the uniform, and I love it.

4. New York Giants

The Giants’ white throwback uniform has been a staple amongst fans for a few years now. It’s about time they brought the blue back. The darker shade of blue on the helmet gives the uniform a more classic look. On top of that, the “GIANTS” along the side is significantly better than the block “NY”. A perfect helmet for a classic uniform.

3. New England Patriots

The Pat Patriot look is back! The red, white, and blue look has long been one of the best looks in football. The white stands out with the red jersey really well, giving New England a patriotic look. As someone who watched many Patriots games growing up, I’m so happy to see these back in action.

2. Cincinnati Bengals

Finally. Ever since the Bengals introduced their all-white uniforms, fans have been screaming for the Bengals to wear while helmets. Everyone’s wish came true, and this looks so clean. The new helmets put these uniforms in the conversation for the best in the NFL.

1. Atlanta Falcons

When the Falcons got new uniforms in 2020, I was disappointed they went with black helmets instead of red. Now you see why. The red and black look with a sliver of gold bring back ’80s nostalgia, a more authentic throwback, and one of the cleanest looks in the NFL. It’s about time Atlanta brought these back. These are, without a doubt, the best of the NFL alternate helmets

Senior Bowl Watchlist: National

Senior Bowl watchlist
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

This is the second part of the first Senior Bowl watchlist by the Around the Block scouting department — read the first part here. By this time next week, almost 150 prospects will be in Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl. The Senior Bowl is the most prestigious collegiate all-star game for draft prospects.

They will practice with NFL coaching staffs during the week then play in a game on Saturday, February 5th. The Senior Bowl provides a fantastic opportunity for prospects from diverse backgrounds to prove themselves on a level playing field.

This year, the Detroit Lions and the New York Jets will be coaching up the players. The scouting department for Around the Block put together a watchlist of players from each Senior Bowl team, the American and the National. This Senior Bowl watchlist will preview the players on the American team, coached by the Detroit Lions.

Quarterback – Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

Desmond Ridder was a near-unanimous choice among the scouting staff for the National team quarterbacks. Ridder has been the starter for Cincinnati for four seasons now and is among the winningest quarterbacks in college football history, boasting a 44-5 record as a starter. Three of those losses came at the hands of some of the best programs in college football: Alabama (in the College Football Playoff), Georgia (in the Peach Bowl), and Ohio State.

Despite this success, many questions surround Ridder. He’s a gifted athlete but is not an elite runner; his arm is good but not elite. Furthermore, he struggles with maintaining consistency in his accuracy in ball placement. In Mobile, Ridder will need to show he can distribute the ball accuracy to all levels of the field. 

Offense – Khalil Shakir, Boise State

Khalil Shakir might have the longest highlight reel of all the players in Mobile. He routinely makes incredible leaping, one-handed catches while keeping at least one of his feet in bounds. But Shakir is more than just a walking spectacular catch.

He’s a highly versatile playmaker who can return kicks, run the ball, and occasionally throw it. His teammates reportedly call him “Swiss”, referencing the versatility of the Swiss Army Knife. With that being said, Shakir struggled with drops during his career at Boise State. He will have to show consistent, reliable hands during the week of practice. 

Christian Watson, North Dakota State

Staying in the upper-middle part of the country, another player who was a favorite of the scouting staff was Christian Watson. A massive target (6’5”, 208), Watson led North Dakota State in receiving for the last three seasons. He also served as their primary kick returner, earning All-Missouri Valley Football Conference and FCS All-American honors at the position.

This shows that Watson is not your typical big receiver who only wins vertically; he’s a remarkable athlete in short areas, and the North Dakota State offense uses him in screens to take advantage of his run-after-the-catch skills. Like most smaller-school prospects, Watson will need to show he can hang with the best of the FBS; can he separate from faster, more athletic cornerbacks? Can he defeat press-jam technique at the line of scrimmage?

Offensive Line – Daniel Faalele, Minnesota

Daniel Faalele will be very hard to miss at the Senior bowl. At 6’9” and 380 pounds, “big” does not adequately describe the Australian offensive tackle. Faalele is relatively new to football, only playing competitively when he transferred to IMG Academy. He played at 400 pounds during his early years at Minnesota but slimmed down when he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID travel restrictions.

When he returned in 2021, he dropped at least 20 pounds and played the best season of his career. Faalele will need to show that he has the movement skills to keep up with NFL-caliber edge rushers. He’s also still pretty raw as a technician, but his physical gifts make him a rather intriguing ball of clay. 

Defensive Line – Logan Hall, Houston

Last year, Payton Turner exploded onto the scene at the Senior Bowl, which helped him become a first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints. This year, another Houston Cougar will be looking to replicate Turner’s journey. Logan Hall came to Houston as a tall, lanky edge rusher. But he’s put on around 50 pounds to become a dominant interior defensive lineman. He’s remarkably explosive for someone of his size, especially considering the weight he’s added.

Hall will most likely take reps at defensive end and defensive tackle; he will need to show he has the play strength to hold up in run defense against larger, stronger offensive tackles. Furthermore, he will need to display a diverse arsenal of pass rush moves and counter, allowing him to win matchups in a variety of ways. 

Linebackers – Chad Muma, Wyoming

Chad Muma will also be following in the footsteps of an alumna from his school at the Senior Bowl. Two years ago, Wyoming linebacker Logan Wilson parlayed his excellent time in Mobile to become a third-round selection by the Cincinnati Bengals. He is a vital part of their defense that helped carry them to the AFC Championship this weekend.

Muma is arguably an even better prospect than Wilson, so a strong showing at the Senior Bowl could cause his draft stock to skyrocket. He is a versatile player who plays well in coverage and when rushing the passer. Again, like most smaller-school prospects, Muma will need to show he has the speed and athletic ability to succeed in the NFL. As a former safety, this should not be a problem for him. 

Defensive Backs – Jalen Pitre, Baylor

The last player on our Senior Bowl watchlist is another hybrid player, Jalen Pitre from Baylor. Pitre is the reigning defensive MVP of the Big 12, contributing significantly toward Baylor’s turnaround that won them a Big 12 Championship. He played the Star position for Baylor this season, which is their designation for the slot/overhang defender. He filled a variety of roles for his defense, stopping the run, defending the pass, and even occasionally rushing the passer.

As the NFL modernizes its defenses, players like Pitre should be in much higher demand. In Mobile, the Jets’ coaching staff might try to see if Pitre can succeed in a more traditional safety role so that he can stay on the field for every down. He will need to display that he can succeed in deep zone assignments and prevent separation in man coverage.

Miami Dolphins Playoff Chances

The Dolphins have won their last five games. What remains to be seen will be a hope for a playoff push. @rishidesa1 show how they can get there.

miami dolphin playoff chances
Credit: PhinPhanatic

If you told me in August that the Miami Dolphins would start the season 1-7, I would’ve told you that you’re crazy. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. At 1-7, if you told me the Dolphins would win five straight, get to 6-7, and have a chance to win-out and make the playoffs, I would’ve called you a lot more things than just “crazy.”

However, that is exactly the point we have reached. The Dolphins have won five games in a row, the defense looks elite, and Tua and the offense are slowly finding a rhythm. Can the once 1-7 Miami Dolphins make the playoffs and what are the Miami Dolphins playoff chances?

Dolphins Remaining Schedule

After their Week 14 bye, the Dolphins will have four games remaining. They host the Jets, visit the Saints, visit the Titans and former QB Ryan Tannehill, and lastly host OROY favorite Mac Jones and the Patriots in Week 18. Clearly, every game is very likely a must win game. 

New York Jets

The Dolphins have won four of their last five games versus the Jets, and most people expect them to make it five of six. Miami easily beat New York less than a month ago at MetLife Stadium and shouldn’t struggle too much with the 3-9 squad in a humid Hard Rock Stadium. 

Of course Miami’s bye week is seen as a chance to get healthy and have extra time to prepare for the Jets. However, it is also coming at a point in which Miami has won five straight games and a bye week could put a dagger in Miami’s momentum.

If the defense continues to perform at an elite level, beating a Jets team lead by rookie QB Zach Wilson shouldn’t be a problem.

New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints have lost five straight games. They have uncertainty in their QB room as Trevor Siemian and Taysom Hill are both playing below average football, the wide receiver(WR) room is depleted, and overall seem to be struggling in the post Drew Brees era. 

The Saints will be a far tougher challenge than the Jets though. Compared to the Jets bottom tier defense, the Saints are a top-15 defense in the NFL. Miami’s offense, although performing a little better as of late, has been inconsistent. 

Even though Miami upset Baltimore in their last primetime game, the narrative that they do not perform well in primetime is still overshadowing the team. Going into a packed Caesars Superdome on primetime will be a tough challenge for Brian Flores’ young squad, but there’s no reason to believe they can’t win this game.

Tennessee Titans

The schedule gets harder by the week for Miami. In Week 17, Miami will travel to Tennessee to take on their former franchise QB, Ryan Tannehill. This game looks a lot less challenging now that RB Derrick Henry is dealing with a foot injury he suffered earlier in the year. 

The Titans started out 8-2 but have dropped two straight games in embarrassing fashion. They lost to the two-win Texans and were blown out by the Patriots. 

Regardless, they are still the No. 2 seed in the AFC, and a Mike Vrabel lead team can always pose a great challenge. 

Fortunately for Miami, the Titans offense has struggled, and the defense is once again having issues. 

The Titans have averaged just 16.3 points over their last three games, while Miami’s defense has returned to its elite form from 2020.

On the other side of the ball, the Titans defense has also struggled. Tennessee has allowed over 280 passing yards in two of their last three games to teams who haven’t had the most aggressive passing attacks in New England and New Orleans. In their last three games, they’ve allowed over 26 points per game. 

A struggling Tennessee defense will help Miami immensely as the offense needs all the assistance they can get. 

The weather will likely play a role in this game. For a team like Miami who is used to playing under the scorching sun year round, a game in Tennessee in the winter will not be easy. 

If things continue the way they have for both teams, the Dolphins should have a good chance of winning and keeping their playoff hopes alive.

New England Patriots

If all things go according to plan, this game will be the final factor in deciding Miami’s fate. 

The Patriots started 2-4 and are the only team hotter than the Dolphins right now. They’ve won seven straight games, lead the AFC East, and currently hold the first seed in the AFC.

The defense has turned it on and they look like a championship defense.

Offensively, they’ve looked very efficient and rookie Mac Jones has done what he’s been asked. The Patriots scored 36, 25, and 45 points in the three games before their Week 13 snow matchup versus Buffalo.

Miami will have a slight advantage as they always seem to have an edge versus the Patriots when playing at home. Miami is 6-2 in their last eight matchups versus New England in South Florida. 

Expect this to be a heavily defensive matchup with two head coaches who are known for torturing young quarterbacks. 

If Miami can methodically pick apart the New England defense one play at a time(as they did to the Panthers and Giants), and the defense continues their elite run, Miami should have a good chance to win this game.

Is there a chance Miami can lose a game and still make the postseason? Yes. However, that is very unlikely. Miami needs to win-out and hope for some help from other teams.

Teams Ahead Of Miami

If Miami wins out, it’s not guaranteed they make the postseason; but the odds are in their favor.

  • Chargers, 7-5: The Chargers have been inconsistent this season but hold the 5th seed. They have five games remaining and three of them are against potential playoff teams. 
  • Cincinnati, 7-5: The Bengals currently hold the 6th seed. Their remaining five games are all against teams who currently hold a playoff spot or are firmly in the hunt. They were just dominated by the Chargers and have a tough slate of games to finish the season. 
  • Buffalo, 7-5: Buffalo holds the last spot in the AFC playoff picture for now. Just a year removed from an AFC Championship game appearance, they find themselves facing slight uncertainty. Of their remaining five games, two are against current playoff teams(Tampa and New England). Two other teams are in the hunt.
  • Pittsburgh, 6-6-1: The Steelers were dominated last night versus the Vikings and it doesn’t get easier. They have arguably the hardest closing stretch of the teams in the hunt. They close the season against three division leaders and Cleveland.
  • Indianapolis, 7-6: The Colts have their bye week this week. After that, they have four games remaining. Two of those are against division leaders. Another is against Las Vegas who is still squarely in the hunt. It is important to note that the Colts own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Miami.
  • Las Vegas, 7-6: Like the Colts, the Raiders also own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Miami. Vegas ends their season with three divisional games, and every team they play is firmly in the hunt or currently holding a spot in the playoffs. They have a difficult schedule for a team that has been very inconsistent as of late.
  • Cleveland, 6-6: The Browns defense has been excellent this season, but their offense has held them back. The Browns finish their season with five straight potential playoff teams, similar to other teams in the hunt. If their offense continues to struggle, they may very well find themselves in a bad spot by Week 16.
  • Denver, 6-6: Denver hosts the one-win Lions in Week 14. Denver then faces three teams who are currently in the playoffs and Las Vegas, who is already ahead of them.

It seems very clear Miami has one of the more favorable closing schedules out of any team in the hunt. Most teams finish with four or five straight potential playoff teams. In Miami’s case, their schedule gets slightly harder each week, and they could be controlling their own destiny in Week 17.

Miami isn’t playing this week, but can make up serious ground on some of the teams above.

Tiebreakers

  • If Miami finishes with the same record as Buffalo, Buffalo will finish ahead of Miami as Buffalo owns the head-to-head tiebreaker this season 2-0.
  • Miami will also the head-to-head tiebreaker to Las Vegas due to their early season loss to the Raiders when Tua Tagovailoa was injured.
  • The Colts, currently one game ahead of Miami, also hold the head-to-head tiebreaker due to their win in Miami over Jacoby Brissett.
  • Miami does own the head-to-head breaker over Baltimore, but that won’t matter if the Ravens win the AFC North.
  • Miami will hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over New England assuming the Dolphins win out. However, like the Ravens, it won’t matter if New England wins the AFC East. 

The Dolphins currently have a 4-5 record in the AFC. Winning out will give them a 7-5 record in the AFC and may play a role in tiebreakers in Week 18.

Will This Matter?

There’s a chance none of this will matter by 4:00 PM on December 19th. If they lose to New York, the Miami Dolphins playoffs chances will take a serious hit. 

Miami has to take care of their business, go one week at a time, and win out. If they can do this, there’s a great chance they will be the first team to start 1-7 and make the postseason.

Follow Rishi Desai on Twitter.

Bengals vs Jets Review: Positional Grades

Robert Sabo – New York Post

Bengals vs Jets was never supposed to be a ‘trap game’, but it defiantly was. A trap game is typically defined as a game where a team that has been flying high gets surprised by a supposedly inferior team. Generally they happen on the road and when a team has an important game coming up the following week. Quite a few have been calling the Bengals’ 34-31 loss to the New York Jets a trap game. It’s hard to argue with them after the way they played.

The Bengals’ defense is going to get a ton of crap this week. Deservedly so, because the 34 points they allowed to Mike White’s Jets was the most they’ve allowed all season. This comes a week after pummeling Lamar Jackson’s Ravens. But, despite the offense putting up over 30 point this week, I think they deserve just as much blame for this complete TEAM loss.

Cincinnati Bengals Position Grades: Offense

Quarterback grade: B-

As bad as the Bengals looked this week, I thought Joe Burrow looked mostly fine. There were a few inaccurate passes and one killer interception. That said, how can you plan for the defender tipping the ball to himself at the line of scrimmage? I’m taking that pick into consideration, but I’m also not going to kill him for it either.

Other than that, Burrow had a mostly respectable day completing 21 of his 33 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns.

Despite an awful first quarter from everyone, Burrow led the Bengals to 24 unanswered points in the second and third quarters. I don’t think Joe Burrow fell victim to the trap game. The Bengals have had slow starts all season, but he got things going as he typically does.

Running Back grade: C-

The running backs didn’t get much help from the offensive line this week. But, Joe Mixon was personally responsible for two of the Bengals’ four touchdowns on the day. Samaje Perine occasionally showed up to put up key first down plays that made up for some ugliness on the prior plays. 

But, at the end of the day, the running backs only combined for 41 yards rushing and 74 yards receiving. Joe Mixon was able to get loose for a few decent gains throughout the day. But, on the whole, he looked like he couldn’t get anything going consistently behind that OL. 

Wide Receiver grade: C-

If there is one offensive unit you could point the finger at in this loss, it’s the wide receivers. To their credit, Tyler Boyd and Ja’Marr Chase both made up for otherwise awful days by pulling in a pair of touchdown grabs that helped the Bengals pull away at important times in the game.

But, I’m not here to talk about the nice highlights the Bengals’ social media team will surely try to push. I’m here to remind you that Ja’Marr Chase returned to his preseason form this week with THREE killer drops. One of those drops was in the endzone. He had the ball in both hands and just dropped it. That dropped touchdown pass turned out to be the difference in the game.

Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins didn’t have perfect games either. But, to be fair, all three receivers had their share of good plays. For Tyler Boyd, it was this really fun looking 46-yard pass to Joe Mixon.

Tight End grade: C-

C.J. Uzomah had a few good plays this week. He was a big part of the reason the Bengals drove down the field early in the fourth quarter to go up 31-20. But, he was almost non-existent the rest of the game. Drew Sample was COMPLETELY non-existent. Again. The Bengals’ offense isn’t really designed to feature tight ends much. But, when the Bengals are struggling to get much accomplished in the intermediate area of the field, the position sticks out like a sore thumb.

Offensive line grade: D+

I was originally going to give this unit an ‘F’. Joe Burrow was under pressure regularly and constantly had to scramble around to get much of anything accomplished. Then again, Burrow was sacked three times. The run blocking was absolutely horrendous. I’ll give them credit for generally playing a pretty clean game. The only two penalties on the day ended up not making much of a difference. But, this offensive line got absolutely worked all day by an underrated Jets defensive line. This unit did not look prepared and seemed to fully fall victim to the trap game.

Cincinnati Bengals Position Grades: Defense

Defensive line grade: C

The Bengals’ defensive line came to play this week, although you would have liked to see more consistency. Mike White was sacked twice, which was nice to see. But, Michael Carter averaged 5.1 yards per carry and looked basically unstoppable at the line of scrimmage. 

That was a big reason the Bengals seemingly couldn’t get off the field on defense. You wonder what the game would have looked like if the Jets had attempted more than 22 carries on the day. The Jets insisted on passing a ton this week, which gave the defensive line ample opportunity to flex their ability to change the game. But, they couldn’t get it done when it mattered. That fact alone will stain what looked to be shaping up like a pretty solid day for this unit.

Linebacker grade: C

Credit to Germaine Pratt for pulling down one of those early interceptions that should have swung the game in the Bengals’ favor. Luckily, the Bengals’ offense actually capitalized on that interception. But, throughout much of the day, the Bengals linebackers seemed to be completely lost in coverage. It was a trap game for them too as Mike White shredded the middle of the field. At one point, it seemed like every single pass was a 11-12 yard gain. In fact, White averaged nine yards per pass attempt and seven Jets receivers averaged at least 10 yards per catch.

Cornerback grade: F

The Bengals allegedly have a really good cornerback corps. We certainly didn’t see that today. If any unit fell victim to the trap game, it was this one. They allowed Mike White 405 passing yards and two touchdowns. Were it not for some early heads up play by the defensive line to tip a couple of passes for interceptions, his passer rating would have been through the roof.

Oh, and that defensive pass interference from Eli Apple in the first quarter? It set the Jets up for an early 7-point lead. He gave up a few big receptions to opposing receivers through the rest of the night and came out looking like a liability again. I’ve been very complimentary of him in recent weeks for starting to get things turned around. But, not this week.

Safety grade: A-

Jessie Bates finally notched his first interception of the season. He’s had three every year he’s been in the league, so it’s nice to finally see him get one this year. It would have been nice if the Bengals didn’t completely waste the gift by losing 13 yards on the ensuing four downs. 

It could have turned into seven points, but Ja’Marr Chase dropped the touchdown. Even then, it could have turned into three points, but Zac elected to go for it even though the Bengals’ offense had done nothing but go backwards on the drive. The Bengals’ complete inability to get anything done on offense on that drive was one of the many differences in this game.

But, Jessie should still get credit for coming away with a pick that should have swung the momentum of a truly ugly first quarter. He wasn’t the best in coverage overall this week, but he did enough to help this team win.

Vonn Bell did too, ripping the ball out of Jamison Crowder’s hands in the second quarter.

In fact, Bell was involved in both of the plays on that drive, stopping Elijah Moore for 2 yards on the other one. The Bengals’ offense managed to get a field goal out of the turnover.

If any unit deserved to win this game, it was the safeties. Unfortunately, the rest of the team let them down.

Special teams grades: B+

There was some questionable kick coverage this week. As a result, the Jets generally had better field position than they probably should have had. But, Kevin Huber and Evan McPherson were both machines this week. Huber put three of his punts inside the 20 this week and didn’t have a single touchback. McPherson wasn’t tested much with four extra points and a 21-yard field goal. But, he converted them all.

Coaching grade: C-

There was plenty to like and plenty to hate about the way the Bengals’ coaching staff approached this game. Perhaps the biggest criticism is how completely unprepared the defense looked for the Jets. We knew, going into this game, that the Jets’ biggest offensive weakness was their abysmal run game. Still, Lou Anarumo couldn’t cook anything up to hold the Jets to any kind of respectable yardage total. They averaged 3.6 yards per carry across the board, which is enough to simply waltz down the field if you run the ball on every play.

Also, I’d like to inquire exactly what Zac Taylor was thinking by going for it on fourth down after Jessie Bates’ interception. The Bengals’ offense did nothing but go backwards on that set of downs, so why would you think they’re suddenly going to do anything different on that drive?

Sure, Ja’Marr Chase dropped a touchdown catch on that drive. But, by not taking the field goal on fourth down, the Bengals left crucial points on the board that would have given them a chance at the end of the game.

Maturity is an advantage for these young Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon, Bengals.com

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.