Bengals Possibly Eifert-less at Denver


Going into Monday Night, the 11-3 Cincinnati Bengals are travelling to Denver to take on the 10-4 Broncos, in what is arguably the biggest regular season game of the Marvin Lewis era. The Bengals were already making the trip without quarterback Andy Dalton at the helm, due to a broken thumb, and now tight end Tyler Eifert who is having an All-Pro caliber year may sit out another week with a concussion.

Eifert, who as emerged as one the top red zone threats in the NFL, will be sorely missed again in Denver. His 12 touchdowns led the league going into last week’s game at San Francisco. It is unheard of for a tight end to lead the NFL in receiving touchdowns so late in a season. Was the hit on Eifert malicious, well, that’s still up in the air.

It is clear that Steelers Safety Mike Mitchell launched at Eifert, helmet to helmet, similarly to how Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. launched at Panthers corner Josh Norman. Now, the two may not be comparable since Beckham’s intent might have been different, but looking at the Eifert hit, Mitchell clearly had no intent of putting his arms up to hit the Bengals tight end with anything other than his helmet.

Last year, the Bengals and Steelers met in the final game of the season at Pittsburgh, in which much was made about how physical of a game that was. The Steelers ended up hurting wide receiver A.J. Green, and tight end Jermaine Gresham, while Bengals safety Reggie Nelson ended the season of Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. The point is, there is no love lost between these teams.

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With that said, it is now time for Bengals rookie tight end Tyler Kroft to show why he was worthy of a 3rd round pick. Kroft can’t expected to be Eifert, but he should be able to fill in, get open, and catch balls in space. More importantly, Kroft needs to fill in where he is needed most, in the red zone. If Kroft can produce where he is needed most, then Eifert might be allowed more time to rest, and get healthy for the post season, which the Bengals have already clinched a spot in.

Monday night at Denver is a monster game for lots of reasons, mostly being whomever wins this game should lock up the number two seed and a first round bye, which is critical for the suddenly unhealthy Bengals.