Now that the preseason is over and rosters are mostly finalized, it's the point in the NFL calendar where experts of various sporting networks make their season predictions. Such is the case with FOX Sports. A group of seven of their writers made their predictions on division winners, wild card teams, as well as individual awards like Most Valuable Player and the like.
If a Bengals fan were to read this, it would likely both anger them for the lack of recognition, as well as give a sense of familiarity because of their team getting spurned yet again. Most of the teams and players that are listed on their predictions are usual suspects, so a lot of it isn't really a surprise.
Alex Marvez, perhaps the most recognizable name of this panel of experts at FOX Sports, was the only one of the seven to select Cincinnati as a division winner. None of the other six picked the Bengals for the division, nor did they choose the orange and black as wild card sneak-ins. Aside from Marvez's selection of the Bengals as winners of the AFC North, the other six writers were split between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens--getting three nods apiece. The AFC East was the only division where all seven writers had a consensus opinion, with all naming the Patriots as the winner of that division.
As for the wild cards in the AFC, the Ravens and Steelers were selected in seven of the 14 total available spots by the writers. In somewhat shocking fashion, the Buffalo Bills were selected three times as a wild card entry by the writers at FOX. If you remember, the Bills had quite the foray into free agency, landing prized defensive end, Mario Williams.
The Bengals were also shut out for the individual awards where names like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Calvin Johnson abound. If there's a pattern to be found in these predictions, it's that they've stayed true to the traditional powerhouses, as well as giving love to the "paper champions" of the free agency period. It seems as if all of the love that the Bengals received for their offseason moves this year, particularly in the draft, has dissipated.