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Five Takeaways From the Bengals' Week 13 Loss to the Chargers

Cincinnati is 7-5 after the loss.

The Bengals played a rollercoaster of a game on Sunday against the Chargers. They went down early, which has been a trend for them this season, before mounting a furious comeback. Then all of the momentum was sucked out by an untimely Joe Mixon fumble. Unfortunately that fumble ended up being the nail in the coffin for the Bengals this week, but there was plenty to take away from this wild game.

Burrow Protection

When the Bengals fail to protect Joe Burrow, they lose games. I'm sure some of this is just noise, some makes sense that when they are losing they'll take more sacks, but some of it is causation. Burrow was sacked six times, which is tied for the third most sacks he's taken in a game. When Burrow takes three or more sacks, the Bengals are an abysmal 2-10-1.

Thirteen of his 19 career interceptions have also come in games that he took three or more sacks. He has never thrown multiple interceptions (like he did yesterday) in games that he has taken less than three sacks. All of this information leads to a pretty strong theory that Burrow and the Bengals are a much better team when he is kept clean.

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Burrow Interceptions

This almost works as a part two to the last takeaway, but Burrow had another multiple interception game. He has thrown two or more interceptions in five career games. 

All of those games have come in this season. One of the picks was absolutely not his fault, but that's the NFL. The Bengals are terrible when Burrow throws more than one interception and fell to 0-5 in such games. They Bengals have to limit sacks and interceptions moving forward if they're going to make a playoff run.

A Struggling Rushing Attack

The Chargers came into this week with the worst run defense in the National Football League. With how hot Mixon was over the past two games heading into this one, it seemed like a no brainer that he would be heavily featured. The Bengals were without two of their starting offensive linemen, which contributed to the bad performance. However, there is no excuse for how bad the rushing attack was. Mixon was held to below three yards per carry for the second time this season. 

When Mixon is held below four yards per carry, the Bengals are 0-4. This is another common thread in Cincinnati's 2021 season up to this point.

Trey Hendrickson Does It Again

It's not all doom and gloom as Trey Hendrickson's sack streak has reached eight games. He is now sitting at 11.5 sacks this year, which is only two away from his career-high. His sack was part of the Bengals' valiant comeback attempt, which almost saw them take the lead after trailing 24-0. Hendrickson has been worth every penny that the Bengals gave him this offseason. 

Playoffs???

Yes the Bengals are currently still in the playoffs, however, FiveThirtyEight now has their chances at below 50%. After the loss to the Chargers, the Bengals sit at a 41% chance to make the playoffs, which is still the 8th best odds in the AFC. They are also in the same spot as they were a week ago with a 22% chance at winning the division. 

If they can beat San Francisco this upcoming Sunday, they jump to a 57% chance at making the playoffs and a 32% chance at winning the AFC North. If they win and Baltimore loses their game to Cleveland, they move to a 38% chance at winning the division. The jump is not very drastic because that win would give Cleveland life as a playoff team and division winner. Right now the Bengals are still in the driver's seat for making the playoffs. They have a tough schedule, but they control their own destiny. If they can win this week they inch closer to their first playoff game since 2015.

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