The Bengals will hit the field Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens in their first game of 2014. Football is almost back for all 32 teams, and Cincinnati is the latest team Pro Football Focus profiled in the previous for every club.
When it comes to the Bengals' strengths, Geno Atkins is the best player on this team when he's healthy. That's what PFF believes, and that's why they tabbed Atkins as their No. 1 reason to be confident in Cincinnati.
Since entering the league, Atkins has never dropped out of the Top 5 in Pass Rush Productivity. The ridiculous +73.6 he amassed during the 2012 season is, by far, the highest cumulative grade we’ve seen since we’ve been grading for interior linemen. Offensive guards and centers have been no match for his unique blend of speed and power. He has played sparingly during the preseason, but assuming he’s fairly healthy, expect him to terrorize quarterbacks on the schedule regularly.
As for Cincinnati's biggest concerns, like most, PFF pegged Andy Dalton as the biggest reason to be concerned about the Bengals.
Personally, I believe center is the team's biggest concern. as for PFF, center was their second-biggest concern.
Cook is now retired, which leaves questions at the center position. Veteran Mike Pollak (400 snaps last year mostly at guard), third-year player Trevor Robinson (78 snaps last year), and fourth-round pick Russell Bodine have all taken snaps at center during training camp and the preseason. Bodine seemingly has the inside track after playing the entire first half against Arizona, though that may change after getting manhandled by Cardinal nose tackle Dan Williams. Bodine struggled specifically in the run game, earning a -2.1 run blocking grade.
In their 2014 Predictions piece, six of eight PFF writers picked the Bengals to win the AFC North. Baltimore and Pittsburgh each received one vote. Two writers picked Geno Atkins wot win Comeback Player of the Year. One writer even picked Bengals rookie running back Jeremy Hill to win the NFL Rookie of the Year award.