Cincinnati Bengals have the best receiving corps in the AFC North

Tee Higgins #85 and Tyler Boyd #83 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrate after a touchdown (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Tee Higgins #85 and Tyler Boyd #83 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrate after a touchdown (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals reside in one of the toughest divisions in all of football and that has made their climb back to the top of the AFC North quite difficult. Even with the stacked competition in their division, the Bengals have the best receiving corps out of the four teams in the AFC North, at least according to Steve Palazzolo of PFF.

Palazzolo put the Bengals at No. 12 in his rankings of all 32 NFL teams’ receiving corps, which narrowly beat out the Browns (No. 13). The Steelers came in at No. 18 and the Ravens were at No. 22.

Palazzolo had this to say about why he put the Bengals at No. 12:

"Like many teams around the league, the receiving corps is strong, but tight end has few legitimate receiving threats. Last season, Bengals tight ends posted a receiving grade of just 51.1, good for 29th in the league. Drew Sample and C.J. Uzomah return with Sample leading the way with 40 catches for just 349 yards (8.7 yards per reception) a year ago."

Palazzolo raves about the wide receivers on Cincinnati’s roster but had to ding the Bengals on his rankings because of their uncertainty at tight end. This ended up being the case for all of the teams in the division and honestly, in most cases, tight end isn’t going to be as strong for most teams.

Drew Sample might end up being a fine tight end but he’s yet to put up big numbers during his two years in the pros. Meanwhile, C.J. Uzomah battled injuries and even at his best, isn’t a game-changing tight end. These are the two tight ends Cincinnati is leaning on for 2021, however.

Even with the tight end talent lacking, the Bengals beating out the Browns to be the best group of receiving corps speaks volumes to how this team has improved over the past year. Joe Burrow needs weapons so the Bengals went out and reunited him with Ja’Marr Chase, his favorite target during his record-breaking season at LSU.

The thing is — They didn’t even need to do this, but by doing so,

The Bengals’ receiving corps are the best in the AFC North.

When looking at the other teams in the AFC North’s corps, it’s not terribly shocking that Cincinnati edged out the rest in this department. While the Ravens have the best tight end in the division in Mark Andrews, their receiver situation could be better. The Steelers have an impressive group of receivers but tight end is a bigger problem for them than it is for Cincinnati.

The Browns were right behind Cincinnati on this list, which was the most surprising aspect. Cleveland once landed in the top 10 on all of these types of lists due to having Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry on their roster. After the Browns’ offense seemingly improved without OBJ, however, it showed that maybe he wasn’t the cog in Cleveland’s offensive machine as many expected him to be.

Really, this is a judgment call between these two, as the Bengals have Chase, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, Auden Tate, Sample, and Uzomah while the Browns have Beckham, Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Austin Hooper, and David Njoku. Cleveland certainly has the more impressive group at tight end, but with how good the Bengals wide receivers look for 2021, no one is going to argue putting them higher on the list.

This is the right step for the Bengals as far as beginning to compete in the division. If they want to make any kind of noise in the AFC North, having an explosive offense is a must.

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Hopefully, we don’t look back at this list and groan at how inaccurate it was.