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Bengals pass-rush unit nears the top 10 in PFF ranking

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This is a pleasant surprise.

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NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals don’t have too many strengths, but their receiving core, secondary and pass-rushing are a few of them. The pass-rushing unit is mainly the defensive line with some help from the team’s lacking linebacker core.

In a recent Pro Football Focus pass-rushing unit ranking, the Bengals neared the top 10, and for Cincinnati, any top-15 finish is a good sign. That said, they still weren’t the top-ranked team in the AFC North with Cleveland coming in at No. 3.

The Ravens ranked No. 25 and Steelers No. 19.

When talking about the pass-rushing unit for Cincinnati, PFF analyst Michael Renner broke down what’s exciting about the line and why Cincinnati broke into the top 15.

“We are excited to see what the Bengals’ pass-rush looks like with Carl Lawson back healthy. He looked on his way to outperforming an outstanding rookie campaign before tearing his ACL. Through seven weeks, he had already totaled 25 pressures.”

That’s all we got on Cincinnati from Renner. However, that doesn’t mean the return of Lawson is all fans should be anticipating.

Defensive end and second-year stud Sam Hubbard may take the next step in his dominance after recording six sacks in his rookie season. He could be a solid sub on longer possessions, potentially even securing a starting role.

Geno Atkins, the team’s best defensive tackle and potentially the team’s best player, should be back at the top of his game in 2019. He’s put up nine or more sacks the past four seasons.

Expect that type of elite play from him again this season and potentially even a career-best season with an enhanced secondary.

Lastly, Carlos Dunlap, a defensive end, is coming off an eight-sack season. One season, the nine-year pro recorded 13.5 sacks. If he can even come close to that, we’re looking at a top-ten defensive line.

This is one of the strongest units for Cincinnati, and it’s because of these four above-average players.