In today's NFL, the best offenses typically feature a perfect blend of strength in the trenches and through the air.
The Bengals are lucky to have both of those things. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth leads a Bengals offensive line that wins more often than not when it comes to trench warfare. Whether it's mauling defenders in the run game or keeping them off his quarterback, Whitworth is what a franchise tackle should be.
But when called upon, A.J. Green does as much damage through the air as any NFL receiver. He's racked up over 1,000 yards in each of his first five NFL seasons, a feat matched only be future Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss. At this rate, Green will have a bust in Canton with Moss someday.
Both Whitworth and Green have consistently been among the best players at their respective positions. Some regard Green and Whit as two of the NFL's best, regardless of position.
The guys at Pro Football Focus broke down the 10 best players in the AFC, and of course, the Bengals were represented by that duo on the list.
9. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
A.J. Green was drafted ahead of Julio Jones in 2011, but it's been Jones that has had the better career so far. Green took a leap in 2015, which coincided with Andy Dalton's career-year. While the Bengals lose their offensive coordinator to the Cleveland Browns and their No. 2 and 3 WRs from 2015 in free agency, they still retain their top two HBs and TE Tyler Eifert. If Dalton continues his growth, Green should have another elite season and improve on his 2.41 yards per route run in 2015. When Dalton targeted Green, he had a QB rating of 121.2, the sixth-best rate in the NFL for a WR, and highest among WRs with over 100 targets. If new offensive coordinator Ken Zampese can build upon the success Hue Jackson developed from the Bengals' offensive attack, Green will battle Hopkins for second-best WR in the AFC.
10. Andrew Whitworth, OT, Bengals
This list is dominated by the AFC North—a division that is regarded for its smash-mouth defensive battles. Seven of the AFC's 10 best offensive players reside in the AFC North, and finishing off the list is the most underrated and unheralded of them all. Andrew Whitworth saw a streak of 32 straight regular-season games without allowing a sack end in Week 10 of 2015. In fact, over that same span, he allowed just one QB hit. So, over the course of two seasons, Whitworth allowed his QB to be touched just once. I'll keep going: he also allowed just 17 hurries during those 32 games. Some LTs dream of those numbers for a season, yet he did it for essentially two. There really isn't much else to say about Whitworth's consistency and ability after showcasing that 32-game stretch of play, a feat that even Joe Thomas has never reached in terms of allowed pressure. In 2015 (min. 600 snaps), just one OT allowed zero sacks, three allowed one hit, and eleven allowed 17 hurries (surprisingly, you get the same exact numbers in 2014). If Joe Thomas is the gold-standard of pass-blocking LTs, Whitworth isn't far behind. The Bengal has benefitted from being on a much better team, consistency at the quarterback position, and a system that relies on the quick-passing game, but there is no doubt that Whitworth has been one of the best LTs in the game for the past nine years.
It's just one of many well-deserved honors both Green and Whit have earned in the past year. It's a familiar thing for Green, who's consistently been recognized as an elite receiver ever since his rookie season. He's also been in the Pro Bowl every season since joining the NFL, while earning two Second-Team All-Pro honors to boost.
At this year's Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin called Green one of the game's best and a guy who could make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That's respect, but for Whit, it's taken much longer for the rest of the league to give him that same respect while taking notice of how good of a blindside protector he is. That was evident when he was selected to his first outright Pro Bowl this past season (he'd only once previously been an alternate in the game), his 10th year in the NFL. Whitworth was also honored with an AP First-Team All-Pro selection and a spot on the PFWA All-AFC Team.