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Cincinnati Bengals Week 12 MVP: Geno Atkins

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Nov 5, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) walks off the field after the game against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati defeated Cleveland 31-10. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals’ decimation of the Rams was a team effort, brimming with stellar individual performances. Geno Atkins, however, outperformed his teammates, earning our Weekly MVP award.

After two straight weeks of not being able to name a MVP, we’re back with the Week 12 MVP. Last Sunday, the Bengals trounced the St. Louis Rams 31-7, and like always, at least one Bengal played well. In this case, the entire Bengals team played well.

In this game, the entire Bengals defense played lights out.

Thanks to a pass rush that hit Nick Foles an eye-popping 12 times, the secondary broke up nine passes and picked off three more.

Leon Hall, the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week, was an obvious MVP candidate, with six tackles, two pass breakups and a 19-yard pick-six, but this outstanding performance wouldn’t have happened without the efforts of a player up front.

But a combination of your perspective and our own analysis has caused us to name a different player as the Bengals’ Week 12 MVP.

Geno Atkins was a one-man wrecking crew on Sunday, recording three tackles–all of those tackles being for a loss, and a sack. His dominance on the interior opened up things for Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry, who hit Foles a combined seven times. And thanks to Atkins’ dominance in the trenches, the Bengals held superstar running back Todd Gurley, who was averaging 109.4 yards per game from October on, to a measly 19 yards rushing and zero touchdowns.

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Atkins is back to his All-Pro form this year, and it was on full display this week. Entering Week 12, Atkins’ seven sacks were tied for the most sacks of any defensive tackle. With his sack on Sunday, Atkins is now the sole leader in sacks among defensive tackles, after

Aaron Donald

, who was tied with Atkins, managed a pedestrian three tackles and zero sacks on Sunday against the Bengals’ offensive line. Most people were proclaiming Donald as the better of the two defensive tackles on Sunday, but Atkins’ effort clearly showed that he’s still ahead of the promising second-year player. Atkins’ eight sacks are tied for the fifth-most in the NFL and second-most on the Bengals behind Carlos Dunlap’s eight and a half.

Even though Leon Hall received the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week award, Geno Atkins’ contributions did not go unnoticed.

Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has recently talked about him as defensive player of the year candidate.

“Maybe we haven’t talked about it enough, but I said earlier in the season he should be in that conversation,” Guenther said, per ESPN.com. “He’s done nothing not to be in there.”

Guenther said  “You ask anybody on (an opposing) offense, any offense that we play. The first guy when they turn the tape on Monday morning and they look at the tape to prepare for us, they say, ‘Oh (expletive), we better have a plan for this guy.”

Said Guenther: “You ask anybody on [an opposing] offense, any offense that we play. The first guy when they turn the tape on Monday morning and they look at the tape to prepare for us, they say, ‘Oh s—, we better have a plan for this guy.”

This upcoming week, the Bengals will face the Cleveland Browns. However, this Browns team will be playing with a new starting quarterbackAustin Davis will be under center, taking snaps after starter Josh McCown was sent to injured reserve with a broken collarbone. Johnny Manziel is still in the doghouse, so to speak, after lying to his team a couple of weeks ago.

Next: Leon Hall Earns AFC Defensive Player of the Week Honors

Facing a banged-up offensive line and an inexperienced quarterback, Geno Atkins may be in for an even bigger game this week. Could Atkins be the Bengals’ Week 13 MVP as well? We shall see.

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