It seems like there are a lot of non-believers when it comes to the Cincinnati Bengals in 2022.
For whatever reason, some members of the national media don’t think the Bengals can repeat as AFC North division champions.
NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund, for example, has the Bengals missing the playoffs in 2022.
I don’t think some of these experts realize just how good the Bengals are.
Specifically the wide receivers.
Ja’Marr Chase had the best rookie season we’ve ever seen from a wide receiver. It was so good, in fact, that it overshadowed Tee Higgins’ incredible season.
Higgins, a former Clemson standout, caught 74 passes for 1,091 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games.
Those aren’t eye-popping numbers, but that’s an incredibly solid season.
The advanced numbers suggest that Higgins was the best pass catcher in the league in 2021.
NFL.com writer Nick Shook’s Next-Gen Stats’ catch rate over expected (CROE) metric had Chase as the No. 9 pass catcher in the NFL in 2021 and Higgins as the No. 1 pass catcher.
Here’s an explanation of CROE:
Next Gen Stats’ catch rate over expected (CROE) metric, which measures the difficulty of completion using a number of factors: separation from nearest defender, depth of target, speed, etc. Players boasting higher CROEs have consistently made difficult, unlikely catches more often than the rest. These are the ones who you can count on to make the tough grabs.
And here’s what Shook had to say about Higgins:
Higgins’ catch rate didn’t land near the top of the league, but the most important metric in these rankings — catch rate over expected — separates him from the rest. As a receiver who operates in the most congested area of the field, Higgins consistently exceeded expectations, finishing with the sixth-most receiving yards (503) and fourth-most expected points added on intermediate targets. And in that traffic-filled region of the field, Higgins proved to be an ideal target to find open space, settle in and catch accurate passes for positive gains, with 73 percent of his total receiving yards coming via air yards (801).
I think it’s safe to call Higgins and Chase the best pass-catching duo in the NFL. And what’s even scarier for the rest of the AFC North is that Tyler Boyd, the Bengals’ No. 3 wide receiver, would be a top-two wide receiver on most other teams in the NFL.
The national media is risking looking foolish with their view of Cincinnati. The Bengals might be in store for a very special season.
Featured image via Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports