Pro Football Focus has the Cincinnati Bengals listed as one of their candidates to be a surprise playoff contender for the 2020 season.
If you survey the football landscape, the large majority believe that the Cincinnati Bengals will fall somewhere in the range of 4-8 wins. If you ask Pro Football Focus, however, they could see the Queen City enjoying playoff football in January.
The orange and black made an appearance in their article, “Surprise playoff contenders for the 2020 NFL season“. The highly respected analytical network details all that the Bengals have going for them.
“Joe Burrow is projected to be roughly a one-win upgrade over Andy Dalton and Ryan Finley from a season ago, while A.J. Green has added more than a half of a win above replacement in all five of the past eight seasons. Tee Higgins, the Bengals’ second-round pick, was worth more than a win over the average college football player… Jonah Williams returns from a 2019 injury with hopes that he will make good on the talent that made him a top-15 pick.”
These are all top-tier football players that many overlook when projecting the outcome of the Bengals 2020 season. Green has arguably been the team’s best player before the injury bug bit him. Tee Higgins has the makings of a high-impact rookie, especially under the tutelage of Green. Williams is the top offensive lineman prospect from a year ago and will undoubtedly help bolster the weakest unit on the roster.
Of course, you can’t forget all of the free-agent additions. D.J. Reader gives Geno Atkins an elite running mate along the interior. The entire secondary has been rebuilt to better fit the style of defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo. Perhaps best of all, the defensive side of the ball is now bursting at the seams with leadership.
The schedule also plays out quite well for the Bengals, who have the sixth easiest slate in the NFL this year,
“With their first four opponents being the Los Angeles Chargers, Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars, there’s a chance Cincinnati can get off to a good start. And with another three-game stretch in the middle of the season that includes the Washington Redskins, New York Giants and Miami Dolphins, if either the Browns or Pittsburgh Steelers falter, there’s room for the Bengals…”
The Chargers look to be rebuilding and will have to travel to Paul Brown Stadium with either a rookie quarterback in Justin Herbert or Tyrod Taylor, who hasn’t been able to secure a starting job for a while.
The Browns look good on paper, but then again, they did last year as well. Until they prove they’ve turned the tide, the Bengals have a shot at winning the battle of Ohio.
The Jaguars, Redskins, Giants, and Dolphins all look to be fairly weak. If the Bengals can find a way to get all of their new additions quickly acquainted, these four opponents could open a path to the postseason.
There’s no telling how the Bengals season will turn out in 2020. But for the faithful fans, it has to be reassuring for the team to at least be considered a potential surprise playoff contender after a two-win campaign just last season.