5 bold predictions for Bengals’ week 14 matchup vs 49ers
By Aaron Burd
The Cincinnati Bengals fell to 7-5 on the season in a perplexing 41-22 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, putting them into a tough position for the remainder of the season. Not only did the Bengals fall to the 7th seed in the AFC playoff standings, but their franchise quarterback Joe Burrow suffered a dislocated pinky that could cause the offense to struggle down the stretch.
With only five games left in the season, Burrow and the Bengals will probably have to go 3-2 in their remaining games to sneak into the playoffs. In those five remaining games, the Bengals have a very tough schedule, playing teams who all currently have a record of .500 or higher.
Due to this, their matchup against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday could be a must-win situation for a newly-banged-up football team.
In the following slides, I will make five bold predictions for how this crucial game will turn out.
Tee Higgins continues hot streak
Seven weeks into the Bengals season, the biggest story was rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and his hot start. Since then, Chase has cooled off dramatically and even begun to make crucial errors, such as dropping an absolute dime from Joe Burrow that should have resulted in a touchdown but instead fell into the Chargers’ hands for an interception.
However, in the midst of Chase’s regression, second-year wide receiver Tee Higgins has begun to breakout. Over the past two weeks, Higgins has been Pro Football Focus’ second highest-graded receiver with a grade of 89.9 while emerging as a beast in contested catch situations.
During that two-week span, Higgins has 15 receptions for 252 yards and two touchdowns. After the Bengals’ offense showed they like to feed the hot hand at receiver, as evidenced by their treatment of Chase in the first portion of the year, Higgins now looks in line to be the focal point of the passing game until defenses adjust.
Due to the potential limitations caused by Burrow’s pinky injury, Higgins probably won’t reach the 126-yard mark he has averaged over the past two weeks, but seven receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown seems like a reasonable prediction for the second-year receiver.