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Bengals’ offensive arsenal getting respect heading into 2021 season

As it should.

NFL: OCT 04 Jaguars at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While the Cincinnati Bengals are getting little respect from the national media, there is a lot of optimism for how good this offense will be in 2021.

With three receivers capable of producing 1,000+ yard seasons in Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Ja’Marr Chase, this passing game should put up a lot of yards this year, especially if franchise QB Joe Burrow makes a significant jump in Year 2.

While Joe Mixon is coming off an injury-plagued 2020 season, he was easily one of the AFC’s best running backs from 2018-19. That span saw Mixon rack up 2,888 total yards (2,305 rushing and 588 receiving) with 17 scores. If he can get back to that level in 2021, this offense can be very special.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell certainly thinks this Bengals offense has the potential to make some serious noise this season. Barnwell just revealed his ranking for all 32 NFL teams’ offensive arsenals.

For this study, Barnwell ranked teams based on their skill-position talent without including the impact of the quarterback, offensive line or scheme.

For the Bengals you could make an argument for this being a positive or a negative, as Burrow would certainly help this ranking, but the offensive line would have a significantly negative impact since it's one of, if not the team’s biggest weakness.

In the end, Cincinnati came in at 13th overall. Here is what Barnwell had to say of the ranking.

13. Cincinnati Bengals

2020 rank: 23 | 2019 rank: 13

I’m always a little skeptical about the impact of rookies when I make these rankings, but it’s not hard to be more optimistic about Ja’Marr Chase than the vast majority of other first-year wideouts. The scary thing for the AFC North is that Chase might not even be the team’s top target as a rookie, given that Tee Higgins was wildly impressive while Joe Burrow was on the field and Tyler Boyd has settled in as one of the league’s top slot receivers. The Bengals also played at one of the league’s faster paces while Burrow was in the lineup. While I’m trying to strip out that pace when I talk about each team’s talent at the skill-position spots, these three wideouts are going to have plenty of chances to impress.

What about Joe Mixon, though? Is he really the “best back in the league,” as Bill Belichick called him toward the end of the 2019 season? Mixon has played behind a dismal line, but after an impressive season in 2018, the former Oklahoma player has produced 1,990 yards from scrimmage with 12 touchdowns and middling efficiency over the past two seasons. Mixon sat out most of 2020 with a foot injury, so with the Bengals expected to give him a three-down workload if healthy, this could be our best chance to see whether he has an All-Pro campaign in his range of outcomes.

What do you think of this ranking? Too high or too low? Let us know in the comments section!