The Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) and the Detroit Lions (0-5) are two franchises going in opposite directions, going into their Week 6 matchup with one another Sunday at Ford Field (1 p.m. EST).
The Bengals sit in second place in the AFC North, tied with the Cleveland Browns and just one game back of the division-leading Baltimore Ravens. Meanwhile, the Lions sit in dead last in the NFC North, and are losers of nine straight games, dating back to last season.
The Bengals also have a franchise quarterback to build around in LSU product and 2020 No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow, while the Lions do not — no offense to Jared Goff — and presumably will be searching for theirs in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Burrow is off to a red-hot start to his sophomore campaign as an NFL passer, too.
He’s completed 71.7 percent of his passes — good for the fourth-highest mark in the league through five weeks — and has also thrown for 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns. And, along the way, he’s formed an explosive connection with rookie wideout and fellow Bayou Bengal product Ja’Marr Chase, who already has five touchdowns and 456 receiving yards to his name.
Detroit head coach Dan Campbell offered Burrow some high praise during his media session Wednesday.
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“He’s getting them into the right play, he knows exactly what he’s looking for, what he’s been coached to do,” Campbell told reporters. “He can throw the heck out of the ball. He’s a pretty accurate quarterback. He’s got poise in the pocket. He’s got the ability to scramble. He’s not a running quarterback, but he’s got the ability to scramble with his eyes down field, and he’s got pocket awareness. And those are tough.”
The Lions’ young, inexperienced secondary will certainly have its hands full with Burrow and Chase.
Through five weeks, Detroit is allowing 8.6 yards per attempt to opposing passers, the second-worst mark in the league.
While that is the case and while it’d be understandable for teams, like the Bengals, to look past the Lions on their schedule, Cincinnati head man Zac Taylor sang a different tune when talking about Detroit this week.
“They’ve been in about every game they’ve played,” Taylor told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “A lot of them have come down to the last second, against really good teams. I know what this team is made of. They’ve got our respect. They’ve got our attention. They’re going to win games this year. We just can’t let it start on Sunday.”
I, for one, don’t think it will start this Sunday. I give Campbell & Co. a 30 percent chance to pull out the Week 6 victory.