The Cincinnati Bengals, proud runner-up of Super Bowl LVI, have started the season solidly enough, having posted a 4-3 record as they entered their Monday night clash against the 2-5 Cleveland Browns. The Bengals certainly have lofty hopes of building off of last season’s surprise near-run to the championship, but they are currently in danger of losing their fourth game of the season, getting shut out, 11-0, at halftime. And to rub salt on the wound, the Bengals’ defense might be in peril after being dealt an untimely injury to cornerback Chidobe Awuzie.
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Awuzie “has a right knee injury and has been declared out” for the remainder of the Bengals’ game against the Browns.
Since entering the league in 2017 with the Dallas Cowboys, Chidobe Awuzie has been one of the more reliable defenders in the NFL, starting in 64 of his 71 career games. While Awuzie hasn’t racked up gaudy interception totals, having tallied a career high two last season in 14 games during the Bengals’ 10-7 season, his loss is still a big deal for a team built on a stifling defense that’s allowed the fourth-least points through seven games.
In addition, the Bengals’ passing defense has also been top-notch, allowing the worst pass completion percentage in the league to go along with the third-lowest percentage of touchdowns per attempted pass, and Awuzie has been a huge part of the Bengals’ humongous defensive efforts. In particular, Awuzie has only allowed 19 completed passes to his man out of 48 attempts, a suffocating 39.6 percent, which shows just how instrumental he has been in shutting down opposing star wideouts.
Alas, the Bengals have met their defensive match in the Browns, a team that also places an emphasis on stopping the passing game. Nevertheless, the Bengals should still expect to beat the Browns with or without their defensive anchor, especially with their ambitions of perhaps achieving what they failed to do last season, and that is to win a Super Bowl.
However, the Bengals’ offense just hasn’t been up to par, and they just scored their first touchdown of the game with 12 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, with the Browns leading the Chidobe Awuzie-less Bengals 25-6 at the time of writing.