Instant analysis after Bengals eye playoffs, not Browns, during Week 18 loss

By Chris Roling

The Cincinnati Bengals kept big names like Joe Burrow away from the field (and in Burrow’s case, away from the city of Cleveland completely) during the team’s season finale against the Cleveland Browns.

Already AFC North champs and guaranteed at least one home playoff game, the Bengals were content to hit cruise control in almost preseason-like fashion. The result was a 21-16 loss to bring the final record to 10-7.

Here are some quick takeaways.

 

Quick Hits

— Bengals went with a D’Ante Smith, Carman, Hill, Adeniji, Prince look as offensive line starters. Good test and look at the developmental crew, some of which could be long-term starters as soon as next year.

— That line quickly folded against Myles Garrett and Co. and as a whole, it was a good example of why the Bengals still need to go all-in on the line this offseason. None of these guys are clear answers and the team can’t gamble that Carman will suddenly pan out.

— Ja’Marr Chase got in the game for a few targets, broke Chad Johnson’s record and left. Easy.

— Specific to this game, the Bengals defense was struggling quite a bit because the pass-rush just couldn’t get anything going. Starting backups and going against one of the NFL’s best offensive lines didn’t help, obviously.

— It’s worth pointing out that Brandon Allen’s play didn’t help the bad-looking offensive line much. He held the ball too long on a few of his sacks, which is something Joe Burrow has done at times to over-inflate the sack numbers this year, too.

— Bengals lost defensive tackles Josh Tupou and Renell Wren to injury. Could mean veteran Mike Daniels remains on the active roster for the playoff game after a very strong showing on Sunday.

 

Key Stat

206: Browns rushing yardage on 41 attempts for a 5.0 per-carry average. The backup-filled Bengals front seven never stood a chance against one of the league’s best offensive lines.

 

Game Balls

S Trayvon Henderson: The safety made the big play for the Bengals on the day, scooping up a fumble and taking it back for a touchdown.

RB Chris Evans: The rookie proved why he’s in the conversation as the second back behind Joe Mixon. He was predictably the best offensive weapon all day, running seven times for 35 yards and catching four passes for 24 yards and a touchdown.

 

Top Takeaway

Preseason vibes: The Bengals shrugged this game off in the middle of last week when they announced Burrow wouldn’t play. They then waved it off almost completely when several key names went on the reserves list due to COVID-19. The objective was to stay healthy, let those other guys get back and get ready for the playoffs.


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