These are the highest-graded Bengals through Week 14

Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The 2021 Cincinnati Bengals have a vastly different identity compared to last year’s team and could win their first playoff game since 1990 (assuming they even make it to the playoffs).

The 7-6 Bengals are currently in a three-way tie for second place in the AFC North, coming off a hope-shattering defeat against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14.

For most of the season, the trio of J’s has impressed as the developing core of this Bengals team’s identity: Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, and Ja’Marr Chase.

But the real impact players this year may surprise you. These are the five highest-graded Bengals players through Week 14, per PFF:

As expected, Burrow and Mixon place in the top three on the team, but Tee Higgins is a surprise inclusion at second on the list.

Who are the top-rated Bengals players through Week 14?

The second-year wideout has exploded in the last three games, recording 366 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Higgins’ production has been buoyed by defensive double teams on Chase, giving Higgins more open looks and more chances to make big plays.

In 11 games this season, Higgins has hauled in 812 yards, on track to surpass last year’s total of 908 yards. All three of Cincinnati’s wide receivers have proved themselves as worthy threats on the sideline, but Higgins gains the slight edge given his recent stellar performances.

The fourth and fifth-highest ranked Bengals are D.J. Reader and Chidobe Awuzie, both of whom have consistently been PFF’s top-graded players in past games.

Reader and Awuzie are leading the Bengals defense back into top-ten status with the former dominating the trenches and the latter locking down the backfield. Every playoff-contending team needs a defensive stalwart to depend on week in and week out, and Cincinnati is lucky to have two.

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When Cincinnati takes on the Denver Broncos in Week 15, expect these five players to show up ready to play and get the win.