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AP Photo/David Richard

2018 AFC North Roster Roundup: Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati committed to Andy Dalton this offseason in a strong quarterback class, but do they have the talent around him to win their first playoff game since 1991?


Projected Starters



QB: Andy Dalton

RB: Joe Mixon
WR: A.J. Green
WR: John Ross
WR: Brandon LaFell
TE: Tyler Eifert
LT: Glenn Cordy
LG: Clint Boling
C: Billy Price
RG: Christian Westerman
RT: Jake Fisher



DE: Carlos Dunlap
DT: Geno Atkins
DT: Andrew Billings
DE: Jordan Willis
OLB: Vontaze Burfict
MLB: Preston Brown
OLB: Carl Lawson
CB: Dre Kirkpatrick
CB: William Jackson III
S: George Iloka
S: Shawn Williams


Roster Notes/Thoughts


Notable depth

QB Matt Barkley, RB Giovani Bernard, RB Mark Walton, TE Tyler Kroft, WR Tyler Boyd, WR Josh Malone, OT Cedric Ogbuehi, OT Bobby Hart, G Trey Hopkins, DE Sam Hubbard, DE Michael Johnson, DT Andrew Brown, DT Ryan Glasgow, DT Chris Baker, LB Vincent Rey, OLB Malik Jefferson, OLB Nick Vigil, CB Darqueze Dennard, CB Keivarae Russell, CB Davontae Harris, S Jessie Bates III


Biggest strength: Linebacker

Vontaze Burfict is suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season, but Cincinnati has plenty of depth and versatility at the position to overcome it, especially with Carl Lawson moving from defensive end to linebacker. I would like Lawson better at end, but hopefully the team has a plan to use him as a pass rusher on passing downs, so overall, he’s undoubtedly a boost to the group. The Bengals also signed Preston Brown to man the middle, and Malik Jefferson was a great value in the third round last month to join Vincent Rey and Nick Vigil in rounding out the group.


Biggest weakness: Quarterback

The closest the Bengals have been to winning a playoff game since 1991 came a couple years ago in a heartbreaking loss to the rival Steelers—but A.J. McCarron, not Andy Dalton, was under center due to the starter’s thumb injury. Personally, I would have kept McCarron and traded Dalton this offseason if given the choice, as we seem to know what the TCU product is at the point. Perhaps a full year with Bill Lazor as offensive coordinator will allow the 30-year-old to reach new heights, but I don’t see how 2018 is anything but a make-or-break season for Dalton.


Position battle to watch: Wide receiver

A.J. Green is obviously a superstar, but behind him, the Bengals need last year’s ninth-overall pick John Ross to step up after battling injuries and not catching a single pass as a rookie. A starting role won’t be handed to him, though, as Marvin Lewis was clearly not pleased with Ross in 2017, and Brandon LaFell has been reliable for the team over the past two seasons. Former second-round pick Tyler Boyd and Josh Malone will also push for playing time.


Early over/under: 5.5 wins (via Odds Shark)

Under. If Joe Mixon turns into an all-around stud, Andy Dalton reaches a new level, and the added talent/changes to defense all pan out, then Cincinnati will likely be competing for a playoff spot. But the offensive line—particularly on the right side—is still a weak spot on an offense that doesn’t have an elite triggerman leading it, and the rest of the division also got better over the past several weeks.


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