ESPN The Magazine picks the Bengals to top the AFC North

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN the magazine compiled stats and opinions from three top NFL sources to predict the season. The Bengals grade well but have a familiar ending.

In the September issue of ESPN the Magazine, Football Outsiders, Pro-Football Reference and Football scientist KC Joyner pulled together stats for each team that allows the magazine to rank and eventually predict the outcome of the season.

To start, the experts at Pro Football Focus have the Bengals finishing 11-5 with a first-round playoff bye. Some highlights from the season include a 42-7 win against the Browns at home. A 48-3 win against the Jets and a 24-17 win against the Patriots.

The Bengals predicted losses were against; the Steelers in Pittsburgh, the Bears, the Packers, the Dolphins and at the Ravens.

Football Outsiders stated the following about the Bengals blitz ability:

The Bengals defense can beat you straight up - its 37 sacks when rushing four or fewer led the NFL. Or the D can beat you with the blitz, allowing just 4.4 yds per pass [sixth in the NFL] when bringing six or more.

Pro-Football reference mentions Geno Atkins stating that his "2012 campaign was among the 25 greatest seasons ever by a DT"

KC Joyner focuses on Andy Dalton. He mentions that many of Dalton's interceptions or near interceptions were from an unusual amount of tipped passes and receiver mistakes. He thinks this years campaign can be improved with a little better luck.

The article goes on to rank every team in every division. They even predict the seeding and outcome of the playoffs and Super Bowl. The wildcard game to feed the Bengals their opponent is between the Ravens and the Texans. The Texans top the birds to face the Bengals in Cincinnati. For the third season in a row the outcome is not favorable for the Bengals. Eventually the Denver Broncos go on to win the whole thing.

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