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ESPN NFL Week One Power Rankings: Bengals Crack Top-Ten

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The multitude of power rankings have begun to flow in, and the Bengals seem to be a bit more well-thought of in 2013 than last season.

Andy Lyons

We are a mere days away from the kickoff of the 2013 NFL season and spirits are high around the league. With the commencement of every season comes optimism and hope, even from the fans of teams that have been forecast to have a rough go of it.

The dose of reality that a lot of people receive come with the major media outlets' power rankings. Some take them quite seriously, while others take them with a grain of salt. Either way, they are a source of conversation and with expectations high for the Bengals this season, we like to relay the message that has been put out there.

ESPN released their most recent power rankings going into the first week, and the Bengals have cracked the top-ten in their poll as well. At No.9, the message is a familiar one: a solid and deep roster with question marks surrounding third-year quarterback, Andy Dalton.

Andy Dalton has to handle the blitz better to win in the AFC North. Dalton was sacked a league-high 20 times facing at least five rushers last season.

Along with the concerns of accuracy with the deep ball, this appears to be the other big detractor from Dalton critics. The Bengals hope that his poise and pocket presence will improve in his third-year, though some of that will come with improved protection up front.

Using 2012 as a barometer at this time last year, the Bengals seem to have jumped up about five spots, if not more. Let's not even talk about early 2011, when the team was almost a consensus pick to be the worst team in the league.