2017 Cincinnati Bengals Team Preview
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Key Additions: OT Andre Smith, LB Kevin Minter, CB Bene Benwikere
RB Rex Burkhead, OT Andrew Whitworth, G Kevin Zeitler, DE Margus Hunt, DE Domata Peko, LB Karlos Dansby, LB Rey Maualuga
AJ Green, as proven in years past, isn’t the most durable player in the world. However, there’s no denying that whenever he’s on the field, he’s easily among the high-caliber wideouts in the game, and his tandem with quarterback Andy Dalton can also be classified as such. The partnership has accounted for 70-plus touchdowns and almost 7,000 yards since 2011.
A new season will mean new hope for the duo, who could be poised to make noise again, especially since they got an exciting boost in the receiving corps in speedy receiver, John Ross. The former Washington Huskie, as you may remember, made his name even brighter with his record-breaking 4.22 time at the combine’s 40-yard-dash.
Joining the passing game in the team’s list of strengths is the defensive unit. Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap will continue being the main faces of the crew that finished eighth in points allowed last season (20.3 per game). They’re not on-par with other top-notch defenses, but it should be competitive enough.
It’s still up in the air, but the Bengals definitely have a list of concerns in the offensive line, with key guys Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler both bolting for other teams. Cedric Ogbuechi and Jake Fisher will be taking their spots, and it is a big, big, question mark – Fisher was okay at-best last season, while the third-year Ogbuechi, is now a borderline bust, as he was already the starting right tackle last season and was eventually benched.
Another area that would need improvement is pass-rushing. It’s far from being the worst, but the production they had in 2016 (33 sacks, 19th in the league) with guys like Atkins and Dunlap on tap was very underwhelming.
Key Player – AJ Green
Can he stay healthy ALL YEAR? That has been the question about AJ Green for the past couple of years.
Healthy or not, though, he will still be the clear-cut best player of the team, and the offense will rely on his abilities the most. Note that he had an injury and a shortened season before his career-long streak of having 1,000-plus receiving yards per season was snapped.
Key Game – October 22nd (Pittsburgh Steelers)
The AFC North is ruled by the Steelers, so the two teams that are usually gunning for the division’s second place – the Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens – should mark their first matchup with Pittsburgh as a key game.
This is a team that the Bengals must burst through, and it’s one of the premiere squads in the league, so it will be a test that will help them measure where their maturity and teamwork is.
2016 Team Stats
|Points per game||20.3 (#24)
|Passing yards per game||246.3 (#15)
|Rushing yards per game||110.5 (#13)|
|Scoring defense||19.7 (#8)
The Bengals (+5,000) will go 8-8 or 7-9.
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