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Know Your Enemy: Cincinnati Bengals

Know Your Enemy continues with the Cincinnati Bengals. Joe Burrow is returning from a torn ACL after 10 solid games in his rookie season on a bad team. Former Ram OC, Zac Taylor returns as the head coach looking to turn things around for the Bengals finally. The Bengal went 4-11-1 in 2020 in a tough AFC North.

Strengths

QB

Joe Burrow is the man if healthy. He notched a 89.4 QB rating on a bad team. He was the number 1 QB/pick taken in 2020 for a reason and will look to shine with weapons galore for the Bengals in year 2.

Weapons

J’Marr Chase was selected at pick 5 in the 2021 draft and should be an instant stud for the Bengals offense. Chase opted out in 2020 but was a monster for the LSU National Champions with Burrow in 2019. Tee Higgins had 908 yards and 6 TDs in his rookie year from Clemson and Tyler Boyd is solid with 841 yards and 4 TDs. These three weapons plus Burrow could do some damage if the Bengals can protect Joe just enough. Drew Sample is a 2019 2nd round pick at TE that needs to blossom in year 3 (349 yards and only 1 TD in 2020).

Solid but Questions

Defensive Line

The Bengals revamped their defensive line adding DE Trey Hendrickson (13.5 sacks) from the Saints and Larry Ogunjobi from the Browns at DT. DJ Reader is a big-time nose tackle who got a big deal in 2020. Sam Hubbard, rookie Cameron Sample and rookie 3rd round pick Joseph Ossai could develop eventually to be solid contributors to the Bengals. Mike Daniels is still in the league and backs up Ogunjobi. 4th round rookie Tyler Shelvin will be the backup nose tackle. The Bengals have some young talent and some big money free agents that will need to play well.

Linebacker

Mid round picks galore. Germaine Pratt will main the middle in his 3rd season along with Logan Wilson in his 2nd season. Akeem Davis-Gaither will be the SAM LB in his 2nd season. These 3rd, 3rd and 4th round picks are the future at LB for the Bengals.

Secondary

Jessie Bates is a really good free safety. Vonn Bell and Ricardo Allen are veteran strong safeties to complement Bates. The Bengals have plenty of veterans at CB with Chidobe Awuzie (93 out of 121) (big deal from Dallas), Trae Waynes (big deal from the Vikings) in 2020, Mike Hilton and Eli Apple (bust all over). CB Darius Phillips played well for the Bengals as a late round pick (18 out 121)

Run Game

Joe Mixon have had some good seasons but 3.3 YPC from 2020 won’t cut it. Semaji Perine hope he gets more carries with a change of scenery behind Mixon. Late round picks Traveon Williams and rookie Chris Evans round out the depth. Mixon needs to get back to 2019 form.

Offensive Line

The Bengals hope Jonah Williams develops after passing on Penei Sewell in the draft for Chase. Riley Reiff was added after being cut from the Vikings for cap reasons. Reiff can be a solid tackle. Michael Jordan and Quinton Spain are average guards. Trey Hopkins is an average center. Billy Price is a 1st round bust backup center. D’Ante Smith is rookie 4th round backup swing tackle behind Reiff and Williams. Jackson Carman was drafted in Round 2 and could push one of the guards for a starting spot. The Bengals hope average can be good enough in 2021 and the youth steps up.

Schedule

Bengals host the Vikings in Week 1 and Packers in Week 5. They travel to Chicago in Week 2 and Detroit in Week 6. The entire NFC North better beat this team but don’t sleep on Joe Burrow and J’Marr Chase.