TDT NFL Power Rankings No. 22: Cincinnati Bengals

After a disappointing 6-10 season, the Bengals will head into the 2017-18 season as underdogs.

For the past several seasons, the Cincinnati Bengals have been known for their lack of postseason success. However, they didn’t even come close to making the playoffs in 2016, finishing with a 6-10 record in the regular season. There’s no doubt that this roster has plenty of talent, but exactly how much better is this version of the Bengals than the one that took the field a season ago?

What I Like: The Bengals did a solid job in this year’s draft. It appears that they focused a great deal of their attention on getting faster. They added wide receiver John Ross, who was the fastest player at the combine, as well as Joe Mixon, an extremely athletic running back. They added some speedy defenders too, including defensive lineman Jordan Willis and linebacker Jordan Evans, who were the fastest players at their respective positions. The Bengals surely won’t be lacking in the athleticism department this season.

What I Don’t Like: I am not feeling their offensive line at all right now. They failed to retain their two most reliable linemen, Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, this offseason. They will now rely on unproven talent to fill those voids. Keeping Andy Dalton upright should be one of this team’s priorities, but it doesn’t look like they made it one.

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Offensive MVP: WR A.J. Green. Green missed six games a season ago with a hamstring injury, but still almost finished with 1,000 yards. His health will be imperative to the team’s success this season. When he’s healthy and at his best, there isn’t a player in this league who can cover him 1-on-1.

Defensive MVP: DT Geno Atkins. Atkins is a consummate pro and pretty damn good at what he does. He is at the Pro Bowl year after year and for good reason. Atkins is a dominant cog in the middle of Cincy’s defensive front. This powerful run-stopper is a force to be reckoned with.

Season Outlook: I don’t expect the Bengals to be as bad as they were in 2016, but I don’t expect them to be a playoff team either. They have a lot of dangerous weapons on offense, but I don’t think they’ll be able to protect Dalton consistently enough. The defense has potential to be pretty good, but injury and character concerns usually come back to bite them. A .500 season should be in order.

8-8, 3rd in AFC North

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