The Cincinnati Bengals came away with a must-win over the Denver Broncos in Week 15. The victory propelled them to first place in the AFC North, which is bound to be a close race the rest of the way. Every team in the division is within one game of the top spot, which sets up a photo finish.
It was a 15-10 win for the Bengals against the Broncos, who despite the loss, are also in the playoff hunt.
Here are three Bengals takeaways from their crucial Week 15 win over the Broncos.
3. Bengals have a top tier receiving core
The Bengals have three solid young receivers, making them a very talented group. Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and Ja'Marr Chase are a hard trio for opposing defenses to stop. Against the Broncos, Boyd was the only player that had success with five receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown.
Chase has turned out to be a fantastic draft pick despite a poor preseason. In his rookie stint, he has 61 receptions for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns. With Joe Burrow at quarterback, the sky is the limit for this offensive group.
2. Joe Burrow is going to be a superstar
Burrow has been extremely successful in his first two seasons. He has put the Bengals in position to make it to the NFL Playoffs for the first time since 2015. While he didn't have a big game against the Broncos, he did enough to get his team the win. Burrow threw for 157 yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions.
This year, his numbers have been solid, with 3,640 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. Bengals fans expected a ton after he was taken with the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He has delivered and more, as the Bengals look like they will make the NFL Playoffs in just his second season.
1. Bengals will win the AFC North
Although the Bengals are in first place in the AFC North, it is not a guarantee they will win the division. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, and Cleveland Browns all have a shot at it. The Ravens had control of the division and the AFC for some time, but with three straight losses, the Bengals have taken control.
Injuries have taken over the Ravens. They are missing their top defensive backs, which leads to opposing offenses torching them. Lamar Jackson missed their last game against the Green Bay Packers, which came down to the final play. The Ravens went for a two-point conversion when they were down 31-30 and failed to convert.
The Steelers have a tough remaining schedule with the Kansas City Chiefs, Browns, and the Ravens. The Browns also have a tight road ahead with the Packers, Steelers, and Bengals. These remaining divisional matchups in the AFC North will likely determine who comes out on top of the division.
It will be up to Burrow to keep the offense going, and the Bengals will need to rely on him heavily moving forward. The defense also needs to continue playing well as the pace will slow down in the postseason. While it will be a tight race, the Bengals have the advantage. They are clicking at the right time and firing on all facets of the game. Burrow and company are primed to finish the season well.