Tyler Brooke of the Bleacher Report was as high on the Bengals as you’ll see. She ranked Cincinnati 6th in the league on the strength of their defense, but notes how well Andy Dalton plays will decide if they ultimately are this good:
The bye week gives the Cincinnati Bengals a chance to get healthy late in the season, and that’s a very good thing.
Honestly, I thought that the defense would collapse without Leon Hall or Geno Atkins, but it has proved me wrong so far, and a lot of that has to do with Vontaze Burfict.
Still, a lot of this team’s success will depend on Andy Dalton, and with how inconsistent he is, that worries me a bit.
Matt Miller from B/R was also high on the Bengals with his No. 8 ranking for them, and he too knows Dalton must play well for Cincinnati to survive a tough 5-game stretch to end the season:
They have a tough schedule ahead that features four toss-up games (Chargers, Colts, Steelers and Ravens), with their only sure thing coming against the Vikings in Week 16.Wins over the Steelers and Ravens will give the Bengals the division, but Marvin Lewis’ team will need to find its rhythm coming off the bye.
With a 1-2 record in their last three games, the Bengals aren’t playing their best football. Lewis will need consistency from Andy Dalton and the offense as they head into the stretch run.
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports has been high on the Bengals since the beginning of training camp, and he has them ranked at No. 7.
Based on all of the above power rankings, the Bengals will be playing teams ranked mostly in the 15-20 range. Only the Colts are getting some top-10 consideration, and the Bengals host them. Thankfully, NFL games aren’t played on paper, but this has to make Bengaldom feel a tad more confident heading into the final stretch-run.