The Bengals will once again rely on A.J. Green to make ridiculous catches and carry most of the offensive load. A full season of Jeremy Hill as their starting running back will help keep quarterback Andy Dalton from ‘doing too much’ and throwing interceptions. Cincinnati could be better than many are predicting.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are nearly the consensus pick to win the AFC North. Their offense could be the best in the league. Can Cincinnati keep pace and upset the Steelers as division champs?
Here is the 2015 NFL team preview for the Cincinnati Bengals.
2014 Win/Loss Record: 10-5-1
Key Additions: QB Josh Johnson, WR Denarius Moore, DE Michael Johnson & LB A.J. Hawk
Key Losses: CB Terence Newman, TE Jermaine Gresham, C Mike Pollak, S Taylor Mays, RT Marshall Newhouse, TE Kevin Brock, DE Robert Geathers, QB Jason Campbell & WR Dane Sanzenbacher
2015 Draft Picks: OT Cedric Ogbuehi, OT Jake Fisher, TE Tyler Kroft, OLB Paul Dawson, S Josh Shaw, DT Marcus Hardison, TE C.J. Uzomah, S Derron Smith & WR Mario Alford
Non-Division Schedule: AFC West, NFC West & (Houston/Buffalo)
Fantasy Sleeper: RB Giovani Bernard & WR Marvin Jones – I would classify Bernard & Jones as classic ‘post-hype sleepers’. Bernard was leapfrogged by Jeremy Hill for the starting running back position last season, but I think he could still be a PPR fantasy asset. Jones missed last season with foot and ankle injuries. Mohamed Sanu stepped up and had a nice season as Cincinnati’s #2 receiver, but Jones has a lot more upside. Remember, had a 10 touchdown season in 2013. I expect Jones to fall in your fantasy draft due to not playing last season.
Offense – QB Andy Dalton, RB Jeremy Hill, WR A.J. Green, WR Marvin Jones, WR Mohamed Sanu, TE Tyler Eifert, LT Andrew Whitworth, LG Clint Boling, C Russell Bodine, RG Kevin Zietler & RT Andre Smith
Defense – DE Carlos Dunlap, DT Domata Peko, DT Geno Atkins, DE Michael Johnson, OLB Vontaze Burfict, MLB Rey Maualuga, OLB Emmanuel Lamur, CB Leon Hall, CB Adam Jones, SS George Iloka & FS Reggie Nelson
Team Analysis: The Cincinnati Bengals have finished anywhere from 9-7 and 11-5 over the last four seasons…but head coach Marvin Lewis is on the perpetual hot seat. He has yet to win a playoff game (0-6 during his tenure as head coach). Also, Andy Dalton continues to be buried by the media. They argue that the Bengals win in spite of him. They point to their defense and the fact that he has benefited from just throwing bombs to A.J. Green. I disagree with all the hate. Dalton is better than most of the ‘game managers’ at quarterback, but yes, he isn’t on the same level as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady…or Tony Romo…or Ben Roethlisberger and many other top quarterbacks. If he cuts down on his interceptions and actually wins a playoff game, he would shut up a lot of his naysayers. Dalton just needs to have another typical year and the Bengals will be on the cusp of another playoff appearance. Oh, also I like Jeremy Hill to have a big year.
2015 Wins Over/Under Line: 8.5 (Prediction: OVER)
2015 Projected Win/Loss Record: 9-7 (2nd in AFC North)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.