With the Bengals sitting at 6-0 on their bye week, there are plenty of players who've helped contribute to that record.
While the Pro Bowl isn't what it used to be, it's still a high honor to be selected to the game, especially when it comes as an outright selection, opposed to getting in as an alternate. Andy Dalton is an obvious example of this. He made it to the Pro Bowl as an alternate last year after several other quarterbacks dropped out, despite him throwing for just 19 touchdowns vs 17 interceptions for the season.
However, Dalton is among a handful of Bengals who deserve consideration to be selected outright to the 2016 Pro Bowl. It's time for a look at which offensive players should be getting more recognition and even consideration to play in the NFL's annual All-Star game.
QB Andy Dalton
The Bengals are 6-0 in large part because Andy Dalton just completed his best six-game stretch as an NFL quarterback. In the Bengals' 34-21 win over the Bills, Dalton completed 23 of 33 passes for 243 yards and three scores with no sacks or turnovers. He is now up to 16 total touchdowns (14 passing, 2 rushing) vs three turnovers through his first six games, which is only the second time in his five-year career he's accounted for that many scores over a six-game stretch.
Dalton has also posted a 100-plus QB rating five times this season. His previous season totals for such are four in 2011, six in 2012, six in 2013, and four in 2014. He ranks second in the NFL in passer rating (116.1), first in total QBR, second in yards per attempt (9.12), second in passing yards (1,761), and second in passing scores (14). He's simply been one of the top five best quarterbacks in the NFL over the first third of the regular season.
There isn't a question of whether Dalton should be in the Pro Bowl. The only question, if he keeps up this play, is if he should be the first quarterback selected for the game.
TE Tyler Eifert
You could make a good argument for Tyler Eifert being the best tight end in football not named Gronk. He's been a monster over the first six games and even a go-to target for Andy Dalton. Eifert's six touchdowns are the most of any tight end to go with his 28 catches for 342 yards. He does so while using his big 6'6", 255-pound frame to outmuscle smaller defensive backs while using his speed to blow past linebackers.
Eifert also leads all tight ends in first downs (21) and has been a focal point in the Bengals' high-powered offense. He should absolutely be in the Pro Bowl based on his current pace. As long as Eifert isn't on the same team as Gronkowski, he may even be a starter in the game.
WR A.J. Green
In all four of A.J. Green's seasons in the NFL, he's made it to the Pro Bowl. He's on pace for a fifth trip there with 35 catches for 531 yards and three scores. Green is tied for sixth in the NFL in receiving yards and is tied for the 10th-most 20-plus yard catches (7).
Green also had arguably the best game any receiver has had this season when the Bengals needed him most in Week 3 at Baltimore. In the game, Green caught 10 passes for 227 yards and two scores, including the game-winning seven-yard score in the game's final minutes. Those 227 yards are also the most any receiver has had in a single game this season.
The Bengals having a more spread-out passing game has led to Green not having bigger numbers every week, but he should still find his way back to the Pro Bowl if he keeps his current pace up.
RB Giovani Bernard
The Bengals offense was expected rely heavily on running back Jeremy Hill this season. They've relied on a back alright, but it's been the more versatile Giovani Bernard. Through six games, Bernard is already up to 427 rushing yards (eighth-most in NFL), and his 21 first-down conversions are tied for the sixth most of any running back.
Bernard is also on pace for a career-high 5.5 yards per rush. which also ranks fifth of any rusher. He's also chipped in 18 catches for 119 yards. At his current pace. Bernard will finish with almost 1,500 all-purpose yards. That deserves Pro Bowl consideration, but probably wouldn't be enough to get him in. If he carries more of the offensive load though going forward, the potential is there for Bernard to have a Pro Bowl-caliber season.
LT Andrew Whitworth
As has been the case many years, Andrew Whitworth is once again among the best offensive lineman in the NFL. He's been the rock of a Bengals offensive line that's also among the NFL's best units, more so because of his ability to protect his quarterback's blindside.
Whitworth is currently on a streak of 819 pass-blocking snaps without allowing a sack. He's also Pro Football Focus' fifth-ranked offensive tackle. Even at the age of 33, Whitworth is still one of the best, and he deserves to be in the next Pro Bowl to help recognize that. He's never made the game as anything other than an alternate, but he deserves to make it on the initial roster at least once in his career, and this could be the year.
LG Clint Boling
Whitworth isn't the only Bengals offensive lineman that deserves Pro Bowl consideration. Cling Boling is having the best season of his five-year NFL career. He's also PFF's eighth-ranked offensive guard and has gone 360 pass-blocking snaps without allowing a sack.
Boling's high grade is more for his run-blocking (86.9 percent efficiency), which has helped pave the way for the Bengals' sixth-ranked rushing offense. He's been great at pulling and getting out to the edge to make his block and spring Bernard and Jeremy Hill for big runs. Boling doesn't get enough credit for what he means to this offense, but a Pro Bowl berth would certainly help that.
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