As the NFL enters the pivotal Week 10 of the 2023 season, the Cincinnati Bengals have emerged as a team to watch, capturing the attention of fans and analysts alike with their impressive performances. With a combination of dynamic playmaking, resilient defense, and a burgeoning young core, the Bengals have displayed a newfound sense of determination, aiming to solidify their position as contenders in a competitive league. With an array of exhilarating matchups on the horizon, the Bengals find themselves at a crucial juncture, eager to cement their place in the league's power rankings.
Highest Ranking: 5
Lowest Ranking: 9
Last Week: 9 (up 4)
Week 9 Result*: *Won vs. Buffalo 24-18
Look out, AFC—Joe Cool is back.
After struggling earlier in the season while nursing a calf injury, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has looked more like himself the past two games—and the results have been wins over the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills that have the Bengals once again looking the part of a Super Bowl contender in the AFC.
After torching the Bills for almost 350 yards and two scores without an interception, Burrow talked up his team's performance over the past two weeks—while also allowing that there's a long way to go before any celebrating can begin.
"We're coming along," Burrow said. "We've played well the last couple of weeks and we have to keep it going. We were 1-0 this week. We have to be 1-0 next week, too. This is only game [No.] 8. We've got nine games left."
Cincinnati's early struggles put the team in something of a hole—it lost to the rival Browns and Ravens the first two weeks of the season. But in two weeks the Bengals will get a shot at redemption against the Ravens, and provided they take care of the Texans in Week 10, a win over Baltimore would at worst have them tied in the loss column for the division lead.
Week 9 ranking: 11 (up 4)
Non-QB MVP: DE Trey Hendrickson
Hendrickson is one of the league's most disruptive defensive linemen. He ranks 11th in pass rush win rate as an edge rusher (ESPN/NFL Next Gen Stats). According to ESPN tracking data, Hendrickson has created 9 sacks (fifth most among defenders), 19 incompletions (third most) and 2 interceptions this season. When he gets a first pressure, opponents are completing just 18.2% of their pass attempts. -- Ben Baby
Week 9 Ranking: 11 (up 2)
Joe Burrow is not only back, he's now in the MVP race. His early-season struggles and calf injury are distant memories now, as he showed in the 24-18 win over Buffalo that the Bengals can win without big nights from Ja'Marr Chase and Joe Mixon, both of whom had been significant producers in Cincinnati's recent turnaround. Tee Higgins also has reasserted himself after a string of forgettable performances, and the tight ends made a surprisingly sizable contribution -- another sign the team has added offensive dimensions. The Bengals' defense really held firm after allowing the first-drive TD. This is a dangerous club now, even if the remaining schedule really is a murderers' row. I think it'll only make them stronger in the long run.
Week 9 Ranking: 8, up 3
Sunday: Beat Buffalo Bills 24-18
Report card: A-minus
Cincinnati has won four in a row and has beaten the 49ers and Bills in the last two weeks. Since Week 5, Joe Burrow leads the NFL in completion percentage (75.8), is third in offensive EPA per dropback (.15) and has 10 touchdowns against two interceptions. Getting Tee Higgins unlocked Sunday night, with a season-high 110 yards, feels like a notable development for this team.
Up next: vs. Houston Texans, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Week 9 Ranking: 10 (up 4)
In what became a relatively stagnant week in the power rankings, the Bengals and Vikings' four-spot improvements represented the biggest jumps from Week 9. Cincinnati fell as low as No. 19 after dropping to 1-3 earlier this year, but they've clawed their way back into the NFL's elite tier.
With his calf strain in the rearview mirror, Joe Burrow continues to look like the MVP candidate we remember. The only thing standing in the Bengals' way is an incredibly daunting schedule, which includes games against the Chiefs, Jaguars, and the entire AFC North (including the Steelers twice).
Week 9 Ranking: 10 (up 4)
The Bengals have turned around the trajectory of their season. Joe Burrow is looking more like the quarterback he was in Super Bowl 56 as Cincinnati has won four consecutive.
"(W)e're back, and we're here," said WR Tee Higgins after Sunday night's big win, Cincinnati's fourth straight victory overall and sixth in a row at home in prime time (a team record). Unfortunately, no more (scheduled) home dates under the lights this season.
Week 9 Ranking: 8 (up 3)
Joe Burrow is back. He picked apart the Bills on Monday night, but it's how he moved that tells us he's healthy again. The slow start seems like a long time ago.
Check out the best photos from the Bills-Bengals Sunday Night Football game in week 9 of the 2023 season.