The Cincinnati Bengals are a week away from their regular season opener against the Baltimore Ravens. The Bengals took a big step backward last season with a 6-9-1 record.
Here are three predictions for the Bengals this season.
#3. Josh Malone will have more receptions than John Ross
Everyone became infatuated with Ross when he broke the combine record in the 40-yard dash. He is a speedster and big play receiver. He will make plays, but his playing strength and limited route tree will set his ceiling this season.
The Bengals have one of the best wide receivers in the league in A.J. Green. Last season, they didn’t have their No. 2 or 3 receiver and it showed. This offseason, they selected Ross with the ninth pick in the draft and Malone in the fourth round.
Malone has the size (6-3, 208) and the speed (4.40 40-yard dash) to be big play receiver with the ability to take some coverage away from Green. It won’t take Malone long to make an impact and gain the trust of quarterback Andy Dalton. The Bengals will be able to go four deep at wide receiver with Green, Malone, Ross and Tyler Boyd.
#2. Vontaze Burfict will be cut when his suspension is over
The Bengals are not the perfect team and having Burfict on the roster is a distraction. He has been suspended multiple times and is not the best linebacker on the team any more. The Bengals signed Kevin Minter away from the Arizona Cardinals in the offseason and Vincent Rey is back. Both should be ahead of him on the depth chart.
The Bengals have not been shy or worried about having players with character issues on their roster, but Burfict is not worth it if he is a reserve.
#1. The Bengals will finish third in the AFC North division
The Bengals are going to be stuck in the middle ground for a bit. They are not as talented as the Pittsburgh Steelers or Ravens, but they're not bad enough to get a top five pick. They will finish third in the AFC North and have another pick just inside the top 10 in next year’s draft.