The Cincinnati Bengals defense has shown a ton of improvement this season and it’s been fun to watch. The additions of Trey Hendrickson, Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton, and Larry Ogunjobi have really helped this defense come to life and get the stripes to the 9-6 record and potential AFC North title.
While the defense has mostly been a strong point this season, it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows. One of the biggest problems this defense has had throughout the season is covering tight ends and that’s a big problem considering that Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs are coming to town next weekend.
This past weekend saw the Bengals get bamboozled by Mark Andrews, who had eight catches for 125 yards and a touchdown in the 20-point victory for Cincy. Yes, the good guys won by double digits but the inability to cover tight ends has been a noticeable problem for this team in 2021 and cost them a win a few weeks ago.
As Kelsey Conway notes in the tweet above, the Bengals had a really hard time containing George Kittle of the 49ers and it cost them a win that week. Kittle had 13 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown in the overtime victory over Cincinnati and continued to come up with clutch catches whenever the Niners needed him to.
Bengals can’t stop tight ends and it’s a problem
Kelce didn’t play this past weekend due to not passing COVID-19 protocols but the expectation is that he’ll be back when the Chiefs come to town for Week 17. Kelce is one of the best tight ends in the NFL and he’s going to be a problem for this Cincinnati secondary.
The last time we saw Kelce in action, he had nearly 200 yards receiving and found the end zone twice in the Chiefs’ overtime victory over the Chargers. Kelce had the walk-off game-winning touchdown in overtime and he’s always a threat to take over games and leave defensive coordinators scratching their heads.
Jessie Bates, Vonn Bell, and Germaine Pratt all had the responsibility of slowing down Andrews this week and no one was able to rise to the occasion and slow the guy down. That’s not promising for this week’s matchup but hopefully, the Bengals’ explosive offense can go toe-to-toe with Kelce and the Chiefs’ offense.
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If the Bengals want to make noise in the playoffs, they’re going to have to figure out how to slow down these premier tight ends or it could cost them.