Gil Brandt, senior analyst with NFL.com, acknowledges the difficulty putting together a Power Ranking so far away from the start of the 2012 regular season. You can't fault the guy, considering that the NFL world is going on a virtual hiatus until the start of training camp next month. The usual suspects kick off Brandt's list with the Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans rounding out the top-five (the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants at No. 6).
If you're looking for the Cincinnati Bengals, and undoubtedly you are, keep scrolling until you reach No. 15 where Brandt writes:
With a young quarterback who played well in 2011 and an excellent 2012 draft -- particularly the first two picks, CB Dre Kirkpatrick and OG Kevin Zeitler -- the Bengals have a chance to move up and win the AFC North. Speaking of the divisional race, Cincy faces a test right off the bat, kicking off the season with a visit to Baltimore on Monday night. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is one of the best in the business and should get a head-coaching job at some point.
I don't begrudge Brandt for ranking the Bengals at the middle-of-the-pack, below the Ravens (No. 8) and Steelers (No. 9) who are both ranked in the top-ten. There's a lot of uncertainty with the Bengals, despite a steep upward trend. At the same time there's an argument that could be made that the Bengals could (and perhaps should) be listed higher than the Chicago Bears, Buffalo Bills and even the Atlanta Falcons. But then again that's the point of power rankings. Generate debate.