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Mark Schlereth On Bengals Defense: 'They Are A Problem'

The unit helped cement another playoff win on Sunday.
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CINCINNATI — The Bengals' defense drove a run to the Super Bowl last season, and it was clutch again in the 2023 wild card round

National voices are taking full notice of the impact, including FS1's Mark Schlereth.

"Because of their quarterback, because of the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball, they can create those explosives that you just don't have an answer for," Schlereth said about the Bengals. "But I will tell you this. Their defense is vastly underrated. Like they went out, and they got Hendrickson from New Orleans. They got DJ Reader from Houston, they went out and got B.J. Hill from the New York Giants. They went out and got Eli Apple from San Francisco. They went out and got Vonn Bell from New Orleans. They went out and purchased a bunch of people."

Cincinnati's defense is an unusual mix of homegrown talent and free-agent gems they've added over the past three offseasons. 

On Sunday, the drafted talent in Logan Wilson, Sam Hubbard, and Germaine Pratt teamed up to create The Fumble In The Jungle.

"And then they drafted well," Schlereth continued. "A guy like Logan Wilson, they're far better than anybody gives them credit for. They just get overshadowed because of how much offensive talent they have. They're a problem. And they're a problem for anybody. And listen, I think the Chiefs are the best team in the AFC, but they're a problem."

Safety Jessie Bates dove into what makes the most important part of NFL defense so effective for Cincinnati. The Bengals own the league's fifth-best red zone defense by touchdowns allowed (50%).

"It kind of starts with coach Betch (James Bettcher), the linebackers coach," Bates told reporters on Monday. "He has a very detailed red zone presentation that we have on Thursdays, and Fridays. We always joke around, it's long as hell. The tape is long, but it's just super detailed. It's just something that every time we get down there as a defense, you got a choice to make. Either you're going to complain about it and give up seven points, or you're going to force a field goal or even get a turnover.

"I think that's something that our defense has done really well. But yeah, getting back to the question, we're just really detailed, I think, within that red zone area. I think when we get down there, we talk about the situation. We talk about the routes that they like to run and all that stuff. It's just a really smart team, really well-connected team that we're asking the right questions in the red zone, making sure we'll seeing stuff through the same lens."

The defense made no excuses with about 12 minutes left in Sunday's game.

They knew what they wanted, and took it.

Cincinnati and Buffalo meet in the divisional round this Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on CBS. The game is available via fuboTV—start your free trial here.

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