Coming into Week 5, nobody thought the Cincinnati Bengals would be the last team in football to reach the 1,000-yard mark in total offense Yet here they are, sitting 32nd in the league. However, Cincy is also facing an Arizona Cardinals defense that is void of talent in many areas thanks to endless injuries over the past few weeks.
The Bengals also still boast an offense that features the dangerous combination of Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, a quarterback-receiver duo that can get hot at any point of the season. And unfortunately for the Cardinals, they have allowed stagnant offenses to score on them often - just look no further than their heartbreaking loss to the New York Giants a few weeks back.
That said, the Cardinals defense has something to prove, and they are facing a Bengals offense looking to prove that the first four weeks of the season was an outlier to their success over the past two seasons. So what exactly are the Redbirds facing in the Bengals?
I wanted more of an inside scoop, so I reached out to Leigh Oleszczak of Stripe Hype, FanSided’s site that covers the Cincinnati Bengals. Leigh told me about Joe Burrow’s recent struggles and how it has affected his ability to throw the football. Keep reading below for my full discussion with Leigh.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Q&A with Leigh Olezczak
Sion: What were your expectations for the Bengals heading into 2023?
Leigh: Like many Bengals fans, I thought this team was a Super Bowl contender. They made the big game two seasons ago and came up just shy of making it back earlier this year.
Sion: What is the Bengals biggest strength, and what is their biggest weakness?
Leigh: I'm going to answer these based on what we've seen so far this season and not what SHOULD be their strengths and weaknesses through four games. Their biggest strength so far has actually been running the football but for some reason, they're not sticking to doing that even though Joe Burrow is injured and could use the help. The biggest weakness is Burrow's inability to throw the ball more than 10 yards down the field. Defenses have figured out that he can't do it so they're blitzing him at an absurdly high rate.
Sion: What must the Bengals do to win in Week 5?
Leigh: Their defense has to play better. We saw in Week 3 vs. the Rams that the defense can still win games for this team but they've been pretty bad in the other three games. If the defense can force turnovers and set the Bengals offense up in good field position, this team has a chance in Week 5.
Sion: Which Cincinnati Bengals player do the Cardinals need to worry about the most?
Leigh: Normally I'd say Joe Burrow but he's not the same player right now due to the calf injury. I'll go with Ja'Marr Chase because even with a banged-up Burrow, Chase is still getting the ball and making plays. He's so hard to stop and the Cardinals are going to have a tough time trying to slow him down.
Sion: Which Cardinals player do the Bengals need to worry about?
Leigh: With how bad their run defense has been, I'd say Cincinnati should be petrified of James Conner. Derrick Henry just ran roughshod over them in Nashville and they've been one of the worst run defenses in the league. Conner should have a monster game if the Cardinals can keep the score close early on.
Sion: How do you think this week's game will play out, and what is your prediction?
Leigh: The Bengals are the better team on paper but Burrow isn't the same scary quarterback right now and the defense looks like a shell of itself. That being said, I think the Bengals squeak out a close one on the road in the desert. Give me a 21-17 Bengals victory.
I’d like to thank Leigh for the insights, and if you would like to learn more about the Arizona Cardinals Week 5 opponent, head over to Stripe Hype, where you will find amazing Cincinnati Bengals-related content.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)