Bengal fans, 2014 is upon us and judging by the preseason, the outlook is good for our beloved Cincinnati Bengals. The off-season was filled with some concerning roster losses, quality additions, a promising draft class, and an encouraging preseason. The polarizing presence that is Andy Dalton has looked sharp following his off-season extension; I’m sure he’s glad to have that behind him as is coach Marvin Lewis. And the defense has looked as stout as ever even while All-Pro Geno Atkins continues to take his return to the field slowly.
The Bengals will begin the season without the services of Marvin Jones due to a broken foot, which is expected to keep him out of the Bengals’ first three games (they have a bye in week four). In his stead, third year wide receiver Mohamed Sanu has looked stellar, following his down year in 2013. He’s looked strong and fast and, if he performs the way we’ve come to expect during this preseason, the Bengals three headed receiving monster, along with All-Pro A.J. Green, could be devastating to opposing teams’ secondaries. Throw in the receiving presences of Jermaine Gresham, Giovani Bernard, and Tyler Eifert, who has become a favorite target of Dalton during this off-season, and I don’t know what opposing defenses can do against the passing game.
With what looks to be a top three defense again this year and a plethora of offensive weapons, both on the ground and through the air, the Bengals success falls directly on the shoulders of Dalton and the special teams unit. Dalton has looked good, but the question marks around him will not disappear until he can show consistency during the regular season and prove his worth in the playoffs. As for the special teams unit, they have struggled mightily during the preseason. The unit was marred by relentless blocking penalties while returning kicks, gave up a few long returns (one of which resulted in a TD), and allowed a punt to be blocked for a safety. If the Bengals are to make the playoffs for a fourth consecutive time, then both Dalton and the special teams unit will need to be better in the upcoming season. With all that in mind, here’s a look at the changes the Bengals experienced over the off-season, what to expect from the team in 2014, fantasy advice regarding the Bengals roster, and information on how to follow and interact with Stripe Hype during all of the upcoming season’s excitement.