The Cincinnati Bengals continue to go through offseason workouts with OTAs beginning this week.
While some things can change between now and Week 1 of the regular season, we know for the most part what the Bengals will look like in 2017, which makes it easier to project what kind of record the team will produce this year.
Peter King of MMQB.com doesn’t seem to think the Bengals will be anything special this season. King is power ranking and breaking down all 32 NFL clubs, and he has the Bengals coming in at 21st overall in his power ranking projection.
King praised the Bengals’ additions of receiver John Ross and running back Joe Mixon with back-to-back picks in the draft, even if Ross has injury concerns and Mixon has character issues. King also liked the addition of Willis, saying “Willis was projected by some to go low in the first round of the 2017 draft; Cincinnati got him in the third.”
However, the loss of tackle Andrew Whitworth to the Rams is a major concern, especially considering Cedric Ogbuehi is set to replace him. Losing guard Kevin Zeitler and running back Rex Burkhead were also big negatives for King when assessing the Bengals, as those two played major roles last season.
Here’s the rest of what King had to say about ranking the Bengals 21st, as well as his prediction for them in the 2017 season:
Why I have the Bengals 21st: I’m on the verge of saying these Bengals have reached their expiration date. Fourteen years for Marvin Lewis, 8.4 wins per year, zero playoff wins in seven appearances. Andy Dalton: six seasons, 9.3 wins per year, zero playoff wins in four games, plus-61 TD-to-pick differential. Competent and competitive, year after year, and so what? But I’m going to defer my grinchiness for the moment because of something one scout told me the day Joe Mixon was drafted. “Best back I’ve scouted in the draft since Adrian Peterson,” he said. And while in San Francisco for the draft this year, I sensed how much the Niners loved John Ross. “A true separator,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “A difference-maker.” So let’s see what happens this year with two major new offensive pieces. Let’s see if one of the best line coaches in the game, Paul Alexander, can make this group play better than it did a year ago, now that it’s without its compass, left tackle Whitworth. Interesting year ahead.
Most important factor to this team this year: The Bengals will score. Can the defense defend? Cincinnati allowed just 16 points a game in the second half of the season, and any playoff hopes rest on being similarly stingy after making no major personnel changes on defense.
Bengals prediction of 10 words or less: A 7-9 season makes Mike Brown ponder cleaning house.
Looking at the Bengals’ current roster and how it stacks up against their 2017 schedule, eight wins should be the absolute minimum for this roster next season, as long as the key players stay healthy. The problem is, the Bengals have been unable to keep their most important players healthy for a full season.
Whether it was losing Andy Dalton in the final weeks of the 2015 season, losing Tyler Eifert for much of the past three seasons, or not having A.J. Green for much of the second half of last season, the Bengals just can’t keep enough of their key players healthy to reach their ultimate goal.
Even so, this roster has too much depth and talent to not churn out eight wins this season. The schedule is manageable enough to get there, but King seems to think seven wins is what this team is capable of.
If that’s the case, there needs to be a major housecleaning next year, including the head coach.