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NFL Power Ranking Roundup Week 1: There’s room for optimism in low start

The power rankings aren’t going to give the Bengals the benefit of the doubt, but they are leaving them room to earn it.

Cincinnati Bengals Training Camp Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The 2020 season is finally only days away. It feels like it has been the longest offseason in quite some time, but part of that probably has more to do with how quickly the Bengals were out of the 2019 season.

Their reward for such a bad season was the ability to draft rookie quarterback Joe Burrow first overall, and after one of the strangest offeseasons since the lockout in 2011, he is set to make his debut this week. That alone has many of the power rankings showing a slight sign of optimism for this team in 2020.

Back in 2019, it wasn’t uncommon to see the Bengals ranked 32nd across the board. At some point, it became more of a forgone conclusion than anything. They start of the 2020 season near the bottom, but the tone is clearly different.

Many are writing about the excitement over Burrow and the rest of the offensive weapons around him. It wouldn’t be shocking to see this team make a rise in these rankings at some point during the season, but they will still have to go out on the field and earn it.

Here are the power rankings for Week 1:

NFL.com: 27th

We’re not going to throw a parade in Chris Wesseling’s hometown of Cincinnati or anything, but good on the Bengals for keeping things simple this summer. There was never a doubt that anyone other than No. 1 pick Joe Burrow would be the starter when the season began. The Bengals believe Burrow is the franchise-resetting superstar they’ve been looking for since the salad days of Carson Palmer. With limited practices and no preseason, Burrow will make mistakes. And Cincy can live with that, as long as he delivers the big plays and excitement that’s been missing from the organization for years. A new era begins.

USA Today: 26th

Did you know Joe Mixon is one of three backs (Ezekiel Elliott, Chris Carson) to rush for at least 1,100 yards each of the past two years? And probably reasonable to expect more in 2020.

ESPN: 30th

Ben Baby: The Bengals haven’t hidden their intention to have Burrow be the Week 1 starter. By all accounts, Burrow is further along than other rookies. But with a lack of preseason reps against other teams, how will the former Heisman winner adjust to game speed at the pro level? The season opener against the Chargers could be a good barometer for how Burrow will fare this season.

CBS Sports: 25th

They will be much improved this season with Joe Burrow at quarterback. The offense should be good. But I still think they are a year away, and will be a playoff team in 2021.

NBC Sports: 27th

Bengals fans are jacked about Joey Burrow. They should be. He seems legit. That doesn’t mean they’ll be good in a brutal division.

Sports Illustrated: 29th

Joe Burrow will be the only rookie QB to start Week 1, and there’s a good chance he’ll make last year’s miserable season all worth it.

Bleacher Report: 30th

Fresh off perhaps the best season by a quarterback in college football history, Burrow now must turn around a team that hasn’t sported a winning season since 2015 and hasn’t won a playoff game since 1990. Burrow has plenty of skill-position talent at his disposal between Joe Mixon, A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. The Cincy offense could be quietly formidable if the offensive line holds up. However, the Bengals also need their defense to drastically improve to help them make real progress in their climb back to respectability in 2020.

Yahoo! Sports: 29th

I don’t have any problem with the four-year, $48 million deal to Joe Mixon. Mixon is still young enough to return good value on most of that deal, he’s a top-end back, and the Bengals won’t be paying Joe Burrow top dollar for a while. Mixon carrying most of the offense for a year or two will ultimately help Burrow, which has value too.