There's no denying A.J. Green's importance to the Bengals.
Through three years in Cincinnati, Green already ranks in the top 10 in Bengals' franchise history in receptions (329), yards (4,874) and touchdowns (35). Without him, Cincinnati has gone just 1-3-1 (including playoffs) in games in which Green didn't play.
NFL.com's Adam Schein put out a list of the NFL's nine most indispensable players. To make Schein's list, a player had to be among the best offensive forces at their position. Quarterbacks were not included, as even above-average QBs have more value than some of the elite players at other positions.
That allowed Bengals receiver A.J. Green to make the list, coming in at No. 7 in Schein's rankings:
I've written -- many, many times -- that I don't trust the Andy Dalton/Marvin Lewis combination in Cincy. Yet, the Bengals continue to rack up double-digit wins.
Credit Green, who might not get enough praise for being flat-out brilliant; he's clearly the best player on a team that's become a playoff regular during his tenure. Four years, four 1,000-yard campaigns, four Pro Bowl nods -- this guy's consistently spectacular. Who knows where this team would be without him?
Green, despite missing significant time due to injuries in 2014, did manage to secure a spot on the 2015 Pro Bowl team while leading the Bengals in receptions (69), receiving yards (1,041) and receiving touchdowns (6).
While Schein's list only went nine players deep, you could certainly argue for several other Bengals being indispensable. Andrew Whitworth has been one of the best two or three left tackles in football over the past four years. Without him protecting Andy Dalton's blindside, who knows how the offense would perform over the course of an entire season.
What about Geno Atkins? The past year and a half has shown how much the Bengals defense suffers when he's not 100 percent. Cincinnati's defense has just 31 combined sacks over their last 23 games (including the playoffs).