The Cincinnati Bengals defense has looked the part of a playoff-contending unit through four weeks of the season. Now, if only the offense can catch up...
Whereas Joe Burrow and the offense have experienced a natural regression in 2022, the defense has been playing at an elite level so far in 2022. Cincy faced four teams of differing quality -- the Steelers, Cowboys, Jets, and Dolphins -- and in each matchup the defense has made some game-changing plays.
In losses to the Steelers and Cowboys, the Bengals nonetheless held down the fort to give the offense time to find its rhythm. Burrow throwing those four picks in Week 4 could have easily sent the team down a slippery slope and led to a blowout, but Cincy stayed strong (against the Steelers' offense, nonetheless) and kept the game close until the end.
Through four games, the Bengals have yet to allow a second-half touchdown. They've found incredible success in stopping opponents' drives and forcing punts, as seen in the chart below.
Cincinnati Bengals have a playoff-contending defense in 2022
There's still plenty of football to be played, and the team's defensive performance at least slightly hinges on its offense.
As long as Burrow puts together clean performances, the defense's job becomes that much easier and Cincy won't constantly be fighting against the clock or against the momentum of the game.
Some early season stars include Vonn Bell, who leads the team with two interceptions and three passes defended, Logan Wilson, who has a team-high 26 tackles, and none other than Trey Hendrickson, Cincy's most productive sack artist.
With elite players on the defensive side of the ball, the Bengals shouldn't have to worry about recurring lapses in coverage as Lou Anarumo seems to have his hands steady on the wheel.
Let's see how well the defense performs against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens in Week 5.