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NFL storylines: Bengals can prove they’re for real

Week 7 is upon us — crazy, right? — and one of the most thrilling seasons to this point in recent NFL history shows no signs of slowing down in its entertainment value.

It makes for quite a fascinating situation each week in terms of storylines.

Here are four to keep an eye on this weekend:

Big chance for Bengals

A case could be made for the Baltimore Ravens being the best team in the NFL, thanks to the great play of Lamar Jackson and a typically stout defense.

The Cincinnati Bengals (4-2), though, are a team to watch and their visit to Baltimore on Sunday provides a great chance to make a statement.

The Bengals are a year ahead of schedule thanks to the dynamic play of second-year quarterback Joe Burrow and his great young receivers, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins.

They face a formidable task against the Ravens, who are unbeaten since their season-opening loss to the Raiders and have risen to the top of the AFC after five straight wins.

Homecoming for Goff

What a weird situation in Los Angeles, where Jared Goff faces his former Rams (5-1) team as the quarterback of the Detroit Lions (0-6) and former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford faces his old team as the new face of the Rams.

It makes for great storylines, including if Goff and his former coach, Sean McVay, will hug it out afterward after some feelings got hurt in the way Goff’ was traded.

While Stafford has eased into his surroundings in Los Angeles — he’s had some ups and downs — his talent and the weapons around him have pushed the Rams into the NFL elite. The scary part is, they are just scratching the surface.

Expect an eventful day in Los Angeles.

Titans face another test

The Titans (4-2) passed a huge test with their thrilling win over the Buffalo Bills (4-2) on Monday, and in the process reclaimed their status as a legitimate AFC threat after a rather uneven start to their season.

Derrick Henry gives the Titans an edge every week as one of the few — maybe the only — NFL running backs that can control a game and shoulder an entire offense flowing through his powerful legs and relentless running style.

When he’s cooking, it opens everything up for Ryan Tannehill in the passing game and the Titans become a dangerous team that can impose its will on opponents.

Here comes another big challenge for the Titans, who can continue to solidify themselves as legit while also pushing the Kansas City Chiefs (3-3) further down the AFC totem pole.

Will Dolphins win matter?

The inexplicable falloff of the Miami Dolphins is one of the big head-scratchers. After winning 10 games last year, no one saw a 1-5 start in Miami nor some of the curious means by which their season has unfolded.

The scapegoat for the struggles appears to be second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as he has done very little to distinguish himself.

On the other hand, the Dolphins’ offensive line has been terrible; what was once considered a promising young defense has not lived up to the hype.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Dolphins offensive line ranks 30th in the NFL, and the 29.5 points they are surrendering is fourth-worst in the league. A win over the Falcons (2-3) will do little to soothe feelings.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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