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Five things we learned about the Cincinnati Bengals in week one

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After the Cincinnati Bengals’ performance in week one, the football world learned plenty about the new-look franchise.

Well, the Cincinnati Bengals almost had a thrilling beginning to the Joe Burrow era. A couple of untimely turnovers, unfortunate penalty calls, and a shanked kick cut the festivities short, however.

Still, there were plenty of positives to take away from Sunday’s loss to the Chargers. A good looking defense, a poised signal-caller under center, and solid special teams play are among the reasons for optimism this season.

As we attempt to digest our first look at this iteration of the franchise while also preparing for a quick turnaround on Thursday night, let’s take a look at what we’ve learned about the club so far.

1. The young linebackers are going to play an integral role

While Josh Bynes and Germaine Pratt stood out early and often for the Bengals, the young linebackers on the squad left their mark as well. It took all of three plays before we saw this year’s third and fourth-round picks, Logan Wilson and Akeem Davis-Gaither.

If defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo keeps the schemes the same, we’ll be seeing the young duo on the field for the majority of passing downs. Considering Cincinnati’s outstanding defensive showing in week one, that’s certainly a good thing.

A year ago, this defense would have likely been gashed by the likes of tight end Hunter Henry and running back Austin Ekeler. This year? Not so much. The unit was able to keep those two at bay, ultimately holding Los Angeles to just 16 points.

2. The offensive line is still a mess

Both the coaching staff and the front office preached all offseason how much they believed in the offensive line. It’s still early, so there’s time for a turnaround, but if week one was any indication of the performances to come, the decision-makers were wrong to willingly go into this season with the current crop of talent on the roster.

The first half of the game against the Chargers saw Joe Burrow hit the turf far too often. Tackles Jonah Williams and Bobby Hart were the main culprits. Granted, they were facing one of the best pass-rushing duos in the league, but Hart has been awful for years now, no matter who he’s lining up against.

The second half saw improved play in the trenches, but not by much. The Chargers may be one of the best at getting after the quarterback but if the Bengals are going to keep Burrow healthy, they’re going to need to come up with a solution quickly.

3. The run defense is heavily improved

It’s early, so there’s no reason to make bold claims, but the run defense looks much better than it did a year ago. The defense, without Geno Atkins, held a Tyrod Taylor led offense at bay on the ground.

That’s no small feat, although the fact that the Chargers were missing two starting interior offensive linemen detracts from the accomplishment. The Bengals will surely face more stout linemen as the season progresses but the early returns are positive.

You can’t overstate how integral a role D.J. Reader plays in this team’s run defense either. When he went out in the third quarter due to muscle cramps, the Bolts’ started punishing Cincinnati on the ground.

Regardless, if Reader can stay healthy and Atkins can return soon, the Bengals should have a solid defense not only in terms of defending the run, but in all aspects.

4. Joe Burrow has ice in his veins

Again, it’s week one, so let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, but did you see the poise of Joe Burrow on the drive to end the fourth quarter? Prior to that series, the cigar-smoking signal-caller had just thrown an interception after dealing with intense pressure all day. He responded by walking the Bengals down the field as if there was no defense, with no timeouts, mind you.

In the words of A.J. Green, “We’ve got a special one in Joe.”

5. A.J. Green is still A.J. Green

With A.J. Green missing so much time, there were many who began wondering if the star wideout could ever reach the level he had once achieved. He showed enough on Sunday to put those kinds of questions to rest.

Of course, the franchise cornerstone still has a ways to go before he proves he can stay healthy, but he was clearly the best receiver on the field in week one. For all the talk about the rest of the receiving corps., when it comes down to crunch time, Green is still the alpha among the group.

Next: Bengals’ defense shows positives against the Chargers

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Buffalo Bills: Predicting when they will suffer their first loss in 2020

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PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – SEPTEMBER 20: Quarterback Jared Goff #16 of the Los Angeles Rams lines against the Philadelphia Eagles in the second half at Lincoln Financial Field on September 20, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Another 2-0 start to the season for the Buffalo Bills, how long can they go without losing a game?

Over the next four games for the Buffalo Bills, they will have their work cut out for them. They will be playing all 2-0 squads in the Los Angeles Rams, Las Vegas Raiders, Tennessee Titans, and the Kansas City Cheifs. It is likely that they are dealt a loss in at least one of these games and I’ll try my best to predict which one.

While the home field advantage isn’t the same without fans in the stands, the comfortability with their home environment still adds some value to each team. The Bills are at home for the Rams and Chiefs games and hit the road for the Raiders and Titans. These next four games will be arguably the toughest stretch the whole season and will be a great measuring stick for the Bills as they have to prove they can beat the top competition.

With great competition comes great quarterback play and that holds true for the most part here, Jared Goff is looking like his 2018 self that led the Rams to the Super Bowl. The Las Vegas Raiders are still riding with the seven-year veteran Derek Carr, the Titans have a revived Ryan Tannehill and the Kansas City Cheifs have former MVP and the most recent Super Bowl MVP in Patrick Mahomes. Bills quarterback Josh Allen hopes to prove himself against the best.

The Bills offense has looked exceptional this season but their defense hasn’t lived up to expectations, especially versus the Dolphins last week. This was primarily due to the injuries to Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano, who both missed Week 2. Their returns would be much appreciated as they are two of the more pivotal players on the defensive side of the ball.

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Chiefs given several options in latest 2021 NFL mock drafts

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN – FEBRUARY 25: General manager Brett Veach of the Kansas City Chiefs speaks to the media at the Indiana Convention Center on February 25, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

The Chiefs are given multiple options in the latest set of 2021 mock drafts.

For such a loaded roster, the Kansas City Chiefs are sure enjoying a lot of contributions from rookies.

When it comes to the Chiefs, the bulk of the offseason spotlight fell squarely on the team’s “run it back” campaign. General manager Brett Veach was intent on bringing back as much of the team’s Super Bowl winning roster as possible, which included nearly every starter on both sides of the ball along with numerous key reserves. From Sammy Watkins to Demarcus Robinson to Mike Pennel to Bashaud Breeland, the Chiefs came to the new year loaded with proven veterans.

It’s interesting, then, to see how many rookies are actually contributing to the Chiefs in 2020. Two games into the season and new faces are showing up strong for Kansas City on both sides of the ball. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is the newest offensive sensation on the league’s most dangerous unit. Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed leads the NFL in interceptions. Tommy Townsend has looked exceptional in Dustin Colquitt‘s shadow, while Mike Danna and Tershawn Wharton are instant assets along the defensive front.

It’s always fun to look ahead, so we wanted to see what next year’s class might have to offer the Chiefs. Here’s a survey of prospects linked to the Chiefs in the latest round of 2021 mock drafts from around the web.

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LA Chargers: 3 players that need to be utilized more moving forward

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(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) – LA Chargers

The LA Chargers have some talent on the roster that is being underutilized.

The LA Chargers are quietly one of the most talented teams in the league. Thus far, the Bolts have proven why everyone was high on their defense heading into the season and offensively, the Chargers have multiple really talented weapons plus an offensive line that has actually looked better thus far.

That naturally is going to create talent that gets underutilized and that is the case for the Bolts through two weeks. While two weeks is a small sample size, there are certain players that we can already tab as needing more playing time/to be utilized more often.

Here are the three players that we want to see Anthony Lynn utilize more moving forward.

1. Joe Reed

Joe Reed has been really solid for the Bolts in special teams thus far. He is in the top-10 in yards per kickoff return and his 45-yard kickoff return in Week 1 led the Chargers to their only touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Aside from that, though, Reed has been kind of nonexistent. He did get one-touch in the offense against Kansas City and took the ball up the field for eight yards.

He has proven to be really good with the ball in his hands, particularly in weaving through blocks and making guys miss. Heading into the year, every Charger fan was touting his potential in being someone who could add a new dynamic to the offense in gadget plays, both carrying the ball and catching the ball.

That simply has not been the case thus far even though we have seen positive signs with his skillset through two games.

I get that the team does not want their primary kick returner to get injured but it would be nice to see Reed get at least a few more touches in the offense and actually be on the field as well. He had two snaps on Sunday.

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