Prior to Thursday night’s game you could make the argument that the Cincinnati Bengals had the best defense in the AFC. However, a certain injury has pushed the Bengals’ advantageous defense back to the middle of the pack. Not to mention, Cincy was already limping into Week 9 with defensive back Leon Hall lost for the entire season with a bad hamstring and linebacker Rey Maualuga out of action due to a sprained MCL.
With all of that being said, a season-ending torn ACL injury for Geno Atkins is the kind of blow that can absolutely demoralize a team and that is exactly what happened. Atkins joins fellow All-Pro defensive tackles Henry Melton and Vince Wilfork on injured reserve. Needless to say; it hasn’t been a good year to be a top tackle in the NFL. Many Cincinnati fans will tell you that Atkins is not only the best player on the defensive side of the ball, but that No. 97 is also the best player on the entire team.
To make matters worse, Atkins was given a six-year deal worth $56.4 million contract this off-season with $31 million of the contract guaranteed. For now, the Kansas City Chiefs stand alone as the AFC’s top defensive group as the heart of the Bengals’ defense won’t be back on the gridiron until this time next season at the earliest.