As the 2020 season approaches, we take a look at the all AFC North team and who represents the Cincinnati Bengals.
As the prospect of a season draws ever more imminent, optimism is present amongst football fans during these trying times, especially for the Cincinnati Bengals. The amount of smack talking appears to have been more common than usual between AFC North teams on social media. Most notably, Tyler Boyd quote tweeted a debate of Baker Mayfield and OBJ vs Burrow & Green in favor of the latter, stating it wasn’t even close. Who wins matchups like these across the division?
Quarterback – Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Last year’s MVP is the sure-fire starter based solely on his performance in 2019. Last season Jackson threw 36 TDs, rushing for 7 more, giving him a passer rating of 113.3. The coming year may result in a downgrade due to the attention that Baltimore’s schematics will have received over the offseason but Jackson still holds a strong edge.
Running Back – Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
Joe Mixon provides strong competition at this position. However, the statistic that gave the edge to the former Georgia Bulldog is his average of over 5 yards per carry throughout his career. Chubb totaled just shy of 1,500 rushing yards last season and the Bengals will need to improve on last year’s sub-par run defense if they are to stop one of the best power backs in the league.
Wide Receivers – A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals, Odell Beckham Jr, Cleveland Browns, Jarvis Landry (slot), Cleveland Browns
The two outside receivers are no contest. Green is a perennial Pro Bowler with a tremendous catch radius. Despite missing last year due to injury, the talent is wildly evident.
OBJ too had a down year, however, his hands are hard to beat and he commands double coverages across the league. If you think Juju Smith Schuster has a sniff here… as a great receiver once said: “Child please”.
The real debate was in the slot where Jarvis Landry edges out Tyler Boyd. Landry collated more yards and touchdowns than Boyd on fewer targets last season and has proven himself in the league.
Tight End – Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
The two main contenders for the position were Andrews and the Browns’ newest free agent, Austin Hooper. Andrews had more yards and TDs than Hooper last year on fewer targets, establishing himself as Lamar Jackson’s number one target. Andrews is predominantly a pass-catching receiver as opposed to a blocker, however, he did receive a cumulative PFF score of 88.5 for 2019.
Offensive Line – LT Ronnie Stanley, Baltimore Ravens, LG Joel Bitonio, Cleveland Browns, C – Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh Steelers, RG – David DeCastro, Pittsburgh Steelers, RT – Jack Conklin, Cleveland Browns
Unfortunately, this further emphasizes the Bengals’ offensive weakness remains offensive line. There was strong competition between Villanueva and Stanley for the Left Tackle spot, however, the latter has established himself as one of the league’s best pass-blocking tackles.
Left guard was a no brainer as Bitonio was the Browns’ highest performing lineman last year. Center was the only position where a Bengal, in last year’s standout Trey Hopkins, stood a chance, but Pouncey has proven his pedigree throughout his career.
With the retirement of one of the league’s best guards in Marshal Yanda, Right Guard was very much downgraded. DeCastro has had a fine career but is not quite at the All-Pro level that he once was. Former Titan Jack Conklin rounds out the group. Conklin has drawn eyes with his physical play style and this was clear to see last year whilst he blocked for Derrick Henry’s epic playoff performances in January.