The Comeback is previewing all 32 NFL teams from worst to first leading up to the start of the 2018 regular season on Sept. 6. Up next in our preseason rankings are the satisfied-with-mediocrity Cincinnati Bengals.
2017 in a nutshell: After inexplicably phoning in the offseason and keeping prehistoric head coach Marvin Lewis, they post a losing record yet again and then once again phone in the offseason and keep prehistoric head coach Marvin Lewis.
What’s different: Not much, and that’s sort of the problem.
Why they could be awesome: With A.J. Green and Andy Dalton, you never know.
Why they could suck: Green can’t carry the entire team, Dalton is tremendously overrated, the offensive line is a disaster, and the defense isn’t what it used to be.
Major additions: First-round center Billy Price, third-round pass-rusher Sam Hubbard, left tackle Cordy Glenn, linebacker Preston Brown.
Major losses: Cornerback Adam Jones, quarterback AJ McCarron, linebacker Kevin Minter.
Breakout watch: After missing his entire rookie season due to injury, 2016 first-round pick William Jackson III really gained steam over the course of his sophomore campaign. Watch for the 25-year-old Houston product to explode and become a shutdown corner in 2018.
Position to watch: Veterans Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson have seniority at the defensive end position, but Hubbard could start pushing right away, 2017 third-rounder Jordan Willis has a bright future, and second-year fourth-rounder Carl Lawson led all rookies with 8.5 sacks. The Bengals would be smart to start using those guys more, because Dunlap and Johnson have reached their ceilings.
Prediction: I’m not sure Glenn and Price can immediately fix a terrible line, Dalton has regressed after a strong start to his career, and they don’t have any support for Green on offense. The defense will help them win some games, but this is a mediocre team that will lose 10 or more outings.
5-11, 4th place in the AFC North