With the preseason in full swing, it won't be long until the NFL regular season begins.
That means plenty of NFL Power Rankings will be coming out during the next three weeks, as experts look to gauge the landscape of the league's 32 teams heading into the 2017 season.
Hopefully, they'll end up having egg on their faces when it comes to the Cincinnati Bengals. For pretty much the entire offseason, Cincinnati has gotten little respect in terms of their standing the NFL. We've seen the Bengals rank as low as a bottom-10 team, something their overall talent suggests they're far from being.
ESPN doesn’t see the Bengals as a bottom 10 team, though they’re close. ESPN’s latest power rankings saw Cincinnati rise a whopping one spot to 22nd overall:
22. Cincinnati Bengals
2016 record: 6-9-1
Post-draft ranking: No. 23
The Bengals missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010 last season, but an infusion of young talent on offense could get Cincinnati back into contention. Injuries to A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert contributed to Andy Dalton throwing for only 18 touchdowns in 16 games last season.
The Bengals have more than enough talent on both sides of the ball to win double digit games. The offense has a world of potential with Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Joe Mixon, Jeremy Hill, John Ross and Giovani Bernard.
On defense, it's a balanced unit with talent on all three levels. The defensive line has the potential to be one of the NFL's best with Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap leading the way. The linebackers are no slouches themselves with Vontaze Burfict being one of the game's best.
But for all of the potential this team has, there are still some major question makes they could derail this team. The offensive line looks like a massive liability, so much that it could actually derail a team that’s strong in nearly every other area. It’s hard for one unit to bring down an entire team, but this unit is very thin and riddled with inexperienced players who haven’t shown they can play at even a serviceable level once the regular season begins.
With that said, 22nd is far too low for a team that has so much talent throughout the rest of the roster, especially when teams like the Baltimore Ravens (21st) are ranked higher. Baltimore may not even have a team to field by Week 1 at the rate they’re losing players to injury.
In the end, it’s up to the Bengals to show these preseason projections are meaningless banter and get back to their winning ways in 2017.