The Cincinnati Bengals have made the playoffs for four straight years. They haven't won a playoff game in that time, but the pieces are in place for the Bengals to have a chance to change that this season. They play in a tough division, but here are four reasons why the Bengals will win the AFC North this season.
Depth In The Secondary
Terence Newman is gone, but the Bengals are deep in the secondary. Adam Jones and Leon Hall are still playing at a high level. Hall will make a great safety in a year or two. Dre Kirkpatrick appears primed to have a monster season. Darqueze Dennard should play a bigger role after essentially redshirting his rookie year. Fourth round pick Josh Shaw has looked great in the preseason. George Iloka and Reggie Nelson form a solid starting safety tandem.
Better Defensive Line
Geno Atkins was not himself last season, as he was still recovering from a torn ACL. Based on how he's played in the preseason, Atkins should be back to his disruptive self. Michael Johnson is back after struggling in Tampa Bay, but a return to Cincinnati could boost his play. Johnson's return should allow Wallace Gilberry to be a third-down specialist, a role he is better suited for. Margus Hunt needs to have a breakout season. There is depth at defensive tackle.
Great Offensive Line
Even with the struggles at center, the Bengals have a top five offensive line in the NFL. Andrew Whitworth is one of the best linemen in the game. The guards have looked a bit shaky in the preseason, but should be okay. Russel Bodine is a concern, but the rest of the offensive line makes up for him.
A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and Marvin Jones all missed significant time last season. Those are arguably Andy Dalton's top three weapons. Getting them back will be a big boost to the offense. If Eifert can stay healthy, he could be in for a big season. With the Bengals' weapons healthy, the offense will be good enough to win the AFC North.
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Related Topics: AFC North, Cincinnati Bengals, Bengals