The top of the AFC was a maddening jumble for much of last year, until the Cincinnati Bengals cut through the noise, rolled through the playoffs and made their first Super Bowl since the 1988 season.
Most of the band is back together for another run at glory, but the Bengals won’t be taking anyone by surprise this time around.
Training camp location: Cincinnati
Paul Brown Stadium
Rookie report date: July 23
Veteran report date: July 26
Key Acquisitions: OT La’el Collins, G Alex Cappa, C Ted Karras, TE Hayden Hurst, CB Eli Apple
Key Losses: TE C.J. Uzomah
The Bengals didn’t go spend or trade crazy, opting instead to try to keep the previous roster mostly intact. At first glance, that seems prudent given the team is fresh off a Super Bowl appearance. On the other hand, now might be the time to slide all the chips into the center of the table. At least the Bengals addressed their offensive line, which is something that absolutely had to happen, so they deserve a fair amount of credit for that.
Duke Tobin brought in three solid contributors in La’el Collins (three years, $21 million), Alex Cappa (four years, $35 million) and Ted Karras (three years, $18 million).
Will Karras be up to the job of starting regularly? Will Collins be healthy? The point is there are still questions there, and the offensive line will be
a likely culprit if Cincinnati takes a step back.
But it’s also hard to fault the team for attempting to surround Joe Burrow with more protection, especially when it comes in the form of three players with
extensive starting experience. The team addressed a different position group through the draft, selecting defensive backs Dax Hill, Cam Taylor-Britt and Tycen Anderson to go along with the re-signing of Eli Apple (one year, $3.75 million).
–WEEK 1 IN FOCUS:
Steelers at Bengals, 1 p.m. ET
Line: Bengals -6.5 (FanDuel)
Total: 44.5 points
What used to be a good-old-fashioned Steeler stomping has turned the other way, as evidenced by FanDuel’s line. Cincinnati gets to host Pittsburgh’s first game of the post-Ben Roethlisberger era, but the question remains whether Kenny Pickett or Mitch Trubisky will start under center.
–BURROWING FOR SAFETY
A few dark horses like the Raiders’ Derek Carr and the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott could lead the NFL in passing yards, but don’t count out Joe Burrow (+1200 at DraftKings) either. Burrow sat out the season finale and was sixth in total yards last season but first in yards per attempt at 8.9, with receiver Ja’Marr Chase’s game-breaking YAC ability a major factor.
–Field Level Media