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Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard lead No. 3 NFL backfield in AFC

You could argue the combo of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill is the best of any NFL team.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals' backfield is one of the NFL's best, and the rest of the world (well, at least the NFL world) is beginning to acknowledge it.

ESPN recently tabbed Jeremy Hill as the fifth-best running back in the league. He came in behind only Adrian Peterson, Le'Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy and Jamaal Charles, who everyone regards as 'elite' backs.

Oh, and there's also Giovani Bernard, who would start for most teams. His versatility and speed will ensure he still gets plenty of touches while operating as the No. 2 back behind Hill. Those two lead a Bengals backfield that recently ranked as the No. 3 RB situation in the AFC:


Starter: Jeremy Hill
Depth: Giovani Bernard, Rex BurkheadCedric Peerman, James Wilder Jr. 
Hill's 5.1-yard average was one of the best in the league last year, and the combination of him and the explosive Bernard sets up nicely for a one-two backfield punch. Hill was top 10 in yards, average, and runs of 20 yards or more and 40 yards or more.

Hill finished his rookie campaign with 1,124 rushing yards and 9 rushing touchdowns. He became the first Bengals' rookie to top 1,000 yards rushing since Corey Dillon in 1997. Hill's 1,124 rushing yards were the most among rookies and 8th most overall in the NFL. He also recorded 27 receptions and 215 receiving yards on the year.

As for Bernard, he broke 1,000 all-purpose yards for the second straight season to begin his NFL career. He already has 99 catches in 29 career games, a high rate for any RB, let alone one who has rarely been the featured back.

As for the rest of Scout's list, they only had the Steelers and Bills as teams with better RBs in the AFC. Buffalo probably deserves the top spot, but the Bengals certainly could argue they have a better situation than Pittsburgh.

While Bell might be the best back in football, the dropoff from him to the injury-prone (and now 32-year-old) DeAngelo Williams is a steep one. I'd rather have a backfield where the backup can carry the offense if the No. 1 guy goes down vs. having a star No. 1, but an unreliable No. 2.

Oh, and I personally don't think Bell is much better than Hill, who actually out-rushed Bell over the final nine games of last year as a rookie with little passing offense to speak of.