Bengals may get Week 1 advantage with Vikings QB issues
By Kristen Wong
The Cincinnati Bengals were already facing a very winnable game against the Vikings in Week 1, and with the latest news of Minnesota’s quarterback dumpster fire, things just got a lot easier.
We’re not entirely sure who to thank yet. Probably the cumulative decision-making of Kellen Mond, Kirk Cousins, and Nate Stanley who remain unvaccinated despite Mond himself testing positive for the virus on Saturday.
No doubt the Minnesota head coach is absolutely fuming, while Zac Taylor rubs his palms together and is thinking about how he can exploit a decimated Viking team.
For those who aren’t following the latest NFL news, the Minnesota Vikings placed Mond, Cousins, and Stanley (along with wide receiver Myron Mitchell) on the Reserve/ COVID-19 list over the weekend. According to ESPN, Mond tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, causing both Cousins and Stanley to sit out of practice due to being potential high-risk close contacts.
The Vikings recently signed two more quarterbacks off of waivers and now have a whopping number of six quarterbacks under contract with the team so far.
And we thought losing Joe Burrow was the worst situation possible. (It still is.)
In any case, the Vikings’ losses turn into the Bengals’ bountiful gains, no matter how vindictive that sounds.
The last time the two teams faced each other, the Bengals lost to the Vikings 7-34. But that was back in 2017 during a time when pandemics were a plot of sci-fi movies and people only wore masks on Halloween. Both teams will look very different in 2021, with Minnesota potentially still struggling to find a starting healthy quarterback.
Cincinnati Bengals stand to profit from Vikings quarterback fiasco while Minnesota burns
The Bengals’ first season game against Minnesota will be a great opportunity for Burrow to display hopefully explosive passing chemistry with his deadly receiver trifecta. But it’ll be a showcase for other position battles, too.
The O-line, for example, likely tandemed by Quinton Spain and Jackson Carman, will need to prove their tackle-shedding toughness and re-earn Burrows’ confidence.
Given that Cincinnati’s defense ranked 26th overall last season, it should be interesting to see how they line up against…well, whoever isn’t on the Viking’s COVID-19 list come September.
This offseason, the Bengals fortified their previously Swiss cheese-like defensive line with Saints’ sack extraordinaire Trey Hendrickson and Cleveland’s defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, not to mention also spending four draft picks on the defensive end.
Cincinnati made the necessary roster changes, but will they be able to execute?
Even if the Vikings go with some fourth-string quarterback at the start of the season, they have other dangerous assets on offense.
Namely, Dalvin Cook. He’s one of the league’s elite running backs who can break off monster chunks of yardage game after game. Last year, Cook rushed for over 1,500 yards (averaging five yards per carry), scored 16 rushing touchdowns, and ranked second in broken tackles.
Cincinnati better hope they hit him and he goes to the ground.
Still, the Bengals really couldn’t have asked for a better Week 1 opponent in the Vikings.
Assuming Minnesota can field a competitive lineup in September, Cincinnati’s first season game should be a good indicator of how much they improved from last year.
We’re sending healthy (and vaccinated) vibes to Mond and the rest of the Vikings and hoping Minnesota can return to normalcy, but the Bengals’ team morale is our number one priority.
Take no mercy, Cincinnati.