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R-E-L-A-X: The Bengals insist they aren’t worried after week five

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After suffering an embarrassing defeat to the Baltimore Ravens, the Cincinnati Bengals are projecting a calm approach to getting back on track.

There’s no kind way of putting it: The Cincinnati Bengals were badly outclassed by the Baltimore Ravens in week five. After months of optimism surrounding the direction of the franchise, the AFC North clash reminded the football world just how much work needs to be done before Zac Taylor’s squad finds its way out of the last place in the division.

With the play of the offensive line, the declining contributions from former cornerstone players, and the regular beating Joe Burrow has been taking, there are legitimate concerns about the future of the organization.

Don’t tell that to the two guys at the helm, however, Taylor and Burrow. Both parties seem confident and according to the latter, it’s just apart of the league they play in,

“I think everyone’s overreacting a little bit right now… We had a bad game. That’s going to happen in the NFL.”

On one hand, Burrow is right. Take the Buffalo Bills for example. Before week five, they were rolling. An undefeated record, premiere play at the quarterback position, and a lot of hype led many to believe they were legitimate contenders, and they most likely are. However, they just lost 42-16 to a Titans team that has barely been able to practice recently. It happens.

Not to mention, Cincinnati has been in every contest they’ve played leading up to Baltimore. Before the 24-point defeat, they hadn’t lost by more than five points.

On the other side of the coin, however, the overall trajectory the team has been on so far this season hasn’t been great, even before the blowout loss to the Ravens. Sure, Burrow has looked good, but he’s taken far too many hits. The coaching staff continues to be uninspiring as well, and there should be legitimate worry that they will find themselves picking in the top-five once again next year.

Zac Taylor promises the Bengals won’t panic

After such a disappointing start to the season, it’s tempting to want to blow it all up. Put guys on the trade block, abandon the plan, find a different way of going about things. That’s not the route Taylor plans on taking though. In a sit down with Bengals.com Senior Writer Geoff Hobson, Taylor responded to the notion that the performance against the Ravens may have shaken him,

“I think that’s what people tend to do. They panic over one performance. That is absolutely not what we’re going to do.”

Of course, that’s exactly the kind of message you expect to hear from the head coach. His delivery of the message is believable though, and it’s evident in player press conferences that they’re repeating his rhetoric, suggesting they’re still bought in.

As the Bengals prepare to get back on track against the Indianapolis Colts in week six, the orange and black faithful will soon find out if they’re able to avoid another sputtering offensive performance against a solid defense.

Next: Predicting when the Bengals will find their next win

NFL Football

Atlanta Falcons prediction: Can the birds get their first win of the year?

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The Atlanta Falcons are back in action for the first time since firing Dan Quinn.

At 1-4 the Minnesota Vikings aren’t much better than the 0-5 Atlanta Falcons. This has all the makings of a really bad pillow fight among two teams that had Super Bowl hopes coming into 2020.

This will be the fifth time that these two teams have met over the last seven NFL seasons, the Falcons are 0-4 in the previous four meetings. The Falcons last win against the Vikings came in 2011 when Matt Ryan threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns.

Here is how the staff at Blogging Dirty thinks the game turns out.

Jeff Benedict – Site Expert

When these two teams met last season, I was shocked at how bad the Atlanta Falcons had looked. Minnesota jumped out 28-0 and never looked back.

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook evolved into one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league and while he was able to rush for 111 yards, he didn’t embarrass the Falcons like he did other teams across the league.

He will be out Sunday, which is a big advantage for the Falcons.

This Vikings team is much different on the defensive side than they were a year ago and I think the Falcons will be able to take advantage of that.

I think Raheem Morris starts his Falcons coaching career with a win.

Joe Beasley – Contributor

I expect the Falcons to play with some type of fire. If interim head coach Raheem Morris wants a shot at this job or any other head coaching gig, he has to show he can somewhat fix this mess in Atlanta.

The offense does get Julio Jones back which is good for everyone except a young Vikings secondary. Add that to the fact that Dalvin Cook isn’t playing and you have a perfect storm for the Falcons to get their first win.

Besides, I’m bound to get one of these right.

Justin Churchill – Contributor

Last week the Vikings were close to beating the Seahawks. They have a very good offense but may struggle without Dalvin Cook in the backfield.

Their defense will give up a lot, hopefully allowing Todd Gurley to get back into a groove. However,  I think the Vikings will win this one.

Ross Terrell – Contributor

It’s officially a new era in Atlanta. Maybe just maybe Raheem Morris was gunning for this job the whole time. So he sabotaged Quinn to get his shot as head coach. Or maybe the Falcons downward spiral will continue.

Let’s hope the latter isn’t true and the Atlanta Falcons finally pull themselves off the mat.

Next: Falcons have a chance to get out of sports purgatory

Ethan Johnson – Contributor

The Atlanta Falcons will not win this game. The team may come out inspired and rejuvenated, or heartbroken because their coach is gone.

Either way, it doesn’t really matter because they haven’t beaten the Minnesota Vikings since 2011, and that streak won’t end Sunday.

 

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Buffalo Bills: 4 defensive tackles to consider trading for this season

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Buffalo Bills

Sep 22, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) jogs off the field following his sack of Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (not pictured) during the first quarter at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

These are four defensive tackles the Buffalo Bills should consider trying to trade for before the trade deadline.

The defensive line for the Buffalo Bills went through a significant change this past offseason. They saw free agents Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson leave in free agency but the front office replaced them with Vernon Butler, Quinton Jefferson, and Mario Addison as well as selecting A.J. Epenesa in the second round.

In addition to those offseason moves, the Bills had last year’s starting defensive tackle Star Lotulelei elect to opt-out of the 2020 season due to concerns around the pandemic.

After six games, it is clear that the changes have caused this defense to take a step backward stopping the run and the front office may need to look outside the organization on how to correct this.

The focus for general manager Brandon Beane should be to look for someone similar to Lotulelei in terms of a zero tech defensive tackle that can eat up space and take on multiple defenders. This will help force running backs into fewer lanes but also free up Tremaine Edmunds and the rest of the second and third-level defenders clear running lanes to get to the ball carrier.

These are four defensive tackles that could be available for a trade that makes sense for the Buffalo Bills.

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4 tight ends the Carolina Panthers should target in the 2021 NFL Draft

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Carolina Panthers

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Ian Thomas

Which college prospects are emerging as early draft candidates for the Carolina Panthers at the tight end position?

The Carolina Panthers clearly have a need at the tight end spot which needs to be addressed next spring. They are getting next to no production from either Ian Thomas or Chris Manhertz through six games of the 2020 season and this is a stark contrast to what the team got from prolific veteran Greg Olsen for so many years.

It’s hard to deny that this isn’t what the Carolina Panthers expected coming into the season. They had high hopes for Thomas to step up and fill the void left by the Pro Bowler, who opted for one more shot at a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks before inevitably taking up a broadcast position next year.

Thomas hasn’t lived up to his billing this season. He has accumulated just six receptions, 39 receiving yards, and one touchdown from 11 targets, which simply isn’t good enough if the former Indiana standout wants to make a real go of things from a starting role.

Although all hope isn’t lost, he is clearly skating on thin ice.

There were fewer expectations on the shoulders of Manhertz. The veteran is seen as more of a blocking tight end and has aided the Panthers in this area. This has been of particular use to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and running back Mike Davis, depending on what play is called by Joe Brady.

If things continue as they are then this might be priority No.1 for the Panthers once the dust has settled on the 2020 season. Whether they bring in a veteran during the free agency period is up for debate, but there are plenty of exciting tight end prospects entering the 2021 NFL Draft that will also warrant consideration during the evaluation process.

Let’s take a look at four players at the position who could come into Carolina and potentially make a big impression.

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