clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bengals among most underrated teams heading into 2017 NFL season

The Bengals continue to get more love after getting little respect for much of the offseason.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at New York Giants Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

How good the 2017 Cincinnati Bengals will be remains to be seen.

Hopefully, it's much better than most national pundits seem to think they'll be. Sure, the Bengals are coming off a forgettable 2016 season. But, that season was marred by major roster turnover, injuries and far too many close losses to think 6-9-1 is what will play out in 2017.

Saying this, various rankings, like that of ESPN, think Cincinnati will be a cellar-dwelling team again in 2017. ESPN’s power ranking had the Bengals coming in at 23rd among the league’s 32 teams, which in reality is preposterous.

ESPN's Dan Graziano is not among those who think the Bengals will be a losing team in 2017. In an assessment of the most underrated NFL teams heading into next season, Graziano was two of six writers polled who tabbed the Bengals as the most underrated team in the league.

I have concerns about the Cincinnati Bengals' offensive line, but ranking them 23rd seems to ignore how good they've been prior to last year. With A.J. Green coming back, the possibility of a healthy Tyler Eifert and all those pieces they still have on defense, they remain the top challenger to Pittsburgh in the AFC North and a strong candidate for a bounce-back season. They made the playoffs five years in a row before last season.

Fellow ESPN analyst Field Yates also thinks the Bengals are a team flying under the radar. While Yates believes the Bengals were the most underrated team in ESPN’s power rankings, he’s still concerned with how Cincinnati will fare in the challenging AFC North.

Like Dan mentioned, the Bengals' offensive line is a major concern, but it's worth noting that this team was among the most consistent in football prior to a cratering last season. With a healthy A.J. Green, better offensive skill players and a defense that's still very good, there are reasons for optimism. The biggest hurdle Cincinnati might have to clear is a difficult AFC North. Pittsburgh should be one of the best AFC teams this season, and Baltimore is stout defensively.

It's good to see some experts realizing Cincinnati isn't getting enough credit heading into the 2017 season. When healthy, this Bengals team is far too talented to not win at least eight games with the favorable schedule they have this year.

Adding to that, this offense has the potential to be one of the best units in the league this year, so long as the offensive line doesn’t become too much of a weakness. There’s immense talent from the skill positions, which should make this unit one that can put up points against any team.

Green and Eifert are among the best players at their respective positions across the league. Joe Mixon was (arguably) the most talented running back in the 2017 NFL Draft. John Ross is a burner who will upgrade any offense. And lest we forget, Andy Dalton is a franchise quarterback who can pilot a top-10 offense.

The Bengals have more than enough firepower to get back to the postseason and have a bounce-back year in 2017.