Breaking down PFF's bold predictions for the Bengals in 2023

  • Irv Smith Jr. a Pro Bowler?
  • Still a bad OL
  • Charlie Jones balls out!
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Irv Smith Jr. (81) runs with the ball at the Cincinnati Bengals NFL
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Irv Smith Jr. (81) runs with the ball at the Cincinnati Bengals NFL / Albert Cesare/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

Bold predictions are always fun to read because they're just that -- Bold.

Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus came up with three bold predictions for the Cincinnati Bengals (and the entire AFC North) in 2023. Let's take a look at what he came up with and if we're buying or selling his predictions.

Prediction No. 1: "Charlie Jones finds a way to significantly contribute as a rookie"

"Though most of these predictions are rooted in some kind of hard data, this one is truly just a gut feeling. In fact, things need to go wrong for this to have any chance of coming true. With Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd in place, there is no real path to the field for rookie Charlie Jones. And yet, Trenton Irwin played more than 350 snaps last season, including random games where he became a real target for Joe Burrow."

Sam Monson

As Monson noted in his write-up, something would have to go wrong for this prediction to play out, at least if we're discussing things on the offensive side of the ball. That being said, Charlie Jones is talented enough to turn a bad situation into something a little more positive.

Monson technically didn't say that it had to be offensively so Jones could be a solid contributor on special teams. Perhaps he becomes one of the best return specialists in the league. I wouldn't be shocked if Jones does indeed become a big piece for the Bengals in 2023.

Prediction No. 2: "Irv Smith Jr. has a Pro Bowl season"

The biggest knock on Irv Smith Jr. during his career so far has been that he can't stay healthy. In four years with the Vikings, Smith appeared in 37 games and made just 15 starts. His best year was in 2020 when he played in 13 games, caught 30 passes for 365 yards, and scored five touchdowns.

We all know that the Bengals haven't had the most consistency at tight end recently but that hasn't mattered. C.J. Uzomah balled out in 2021 and got a nice contract with the Jets as a result. Hayden Hurst came in on a one-year deal, balled out, and signed a nice deal with the Panthers. Now, if he can stay healthy, Smith can absolutely do the same. That's the key though, he has to stay healthy.

" Dropping a critical pass in the playoff game last season soured many fans on him, but he had just five drops on 126 total targets as a Minnesota Viking and still has high-end athleticism and speed. Joe Burrow has been friendly to tight ends during his time in the NFL, and if Smith can stay healthy this year, he could be a weapon in this offense."

Sam Monson

Prediction No. 3. "Joe Burrow remains a top-five most-sacked quarterback"

Despite the Bengals spending significant assets on the offensive line over the past two years, Monson boldly predicts that it won't pay off. He still thinks Joe Burrow will end up as one of the most-sacked quarterbacks in the league.

"For his career, 24.3% of pressured plays result in sacks — a largely quarterback-driven data point — a figure that comes in more than twice as high as the lowest quarterbacks in the league. Orlando Brown Jr. represents another significant addition to the line, but it won’t stop Burrow from being Burrow. He will remain one of the most-sacked quarterbacks in the league."

Sam Monson

The Bengals signed Orlando Brown Jr. in the offseason but Monson says "it won't stop Burrow from being Burrow". It is true that Burrow doesn't like to give up on a play and that's why he's sacked more than he should be. Hopefully, he can just dirt the ball when a play isn't there rather than take unnecessary hits.


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Monson pointed out that he made this prediction last year despite the Bengals heavily investing in the offensive line and unfortunately, it came true. I don't think he'll be correct with this prediction but it is a bold prediction, after all.