Contemplating life's most difficult questions, when asking yourself how the Cincinnati Bengals starting line-up will look in 2014, there are more certainties than unknowns. It's kind of like marriage. You know a lot about that person, but boy are there surprises in store for you!
Andy Dalton will resume his role as the starting quarterback with a combination of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and/or Giovani Bernard in the backfield. A.J. Green and Marvin Jones will start at wide receiver and, most likely, Jermaine Gresham won't be a salary cap casualty, returning as the team's starting tight end. It depends on of the team plays double-tight or three-wide that dictates Andrew Hawkins, Mohamed Sanu or Tyler Eifert -- all in all, they're around depending on the team's configuration.
It's questionable what Cincinnati will do at left tackle -- does Andrew Whitworth return to anchor the offensive line, or stick at left guard while the team acquires a new left tackle (or god forbid, makes a run at Anthony Collins). Save for Michael Johnson's likely departure, the defense will mostly be unshuffled this season. However, there are variables to be introduced here as well -- will Domata Peko clear through the questions on the team's salary cap.
Pro Football Focus looks at the starting lineup and grades the projection by elite starter, high-quality starter, solid starter, adequate starter, below average and poor. Three were categorized as below average and a poor starter -- Jermaine Gresham, Domata Peko and Rey Maualuga.
The elite player? Geno Atkins. The second-best, A.J. Green. But somehow I think you already knew that.
Andy Dalton continues to be the source of much debate in Cincinnati and around the league. The up-and-down nature of his play is defined perfectly by his last few games in 2013. He had a grade of +6.1 or higher in two of the final four games of the regular season and then had a -6.6 horror show in the playoffs.