CINCINNATI — The Bengals might be the reigning AFC Champions, but there's a chance they could be even better this season.
They have a revamped offensive line, Joe Burrow is 100% healthy and guys like Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins have another year of experience.
Four Bengals made Conor Orr's list of potential first-time Pro Bowlers.
Burrow was the first player mentioned. The 25-year-old is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and is entering his third season.
"Burrow is going to be one of the great quarterbacks of the next decade, dueling with Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes and the like for many an overhyped Sunday Night Football broadcast to come," Orr wrote. "While the Bengals walk into 2022 with the heightened challenge of putting more film on tape than anyone and revealing some of their biggest tendencies on the biggest stage in sports, not to mention an increased usage of big play prevention defense, they do so with a quarterback who is uniquely equipped to handle the current NFL. How do I know? Go back and watch the wild-card game against the Raiders. On most snaps, it looked like a picket fence of defenders around the first-down marker, forcing Burrow to make air tight throws on every down. He picked apart the quintessential modern cover-first defense in the playoffs and went on to reach the Super Bowl, despite getting pummeled with regularity."
Burrow's newest offensive linemen also made the list. Orr mentioned La'el Collins, Ted Karras and Alex Cappa.
"I’m hedging my bets a bit here. While I’d put the veteran (Karras) No. 1, I am assuming that one of the Bengals’ three new offensive linemen will receive the credit the overall unit earns for turning their fortunes around," Orr wrote. "No offense to Jonah Williams, who, at least according to advanced stats, surrendered 10 of Burrow’s sacks a year ago, but is better than he’s given credit for. Hits on Burrow are a major story line and will be tracked doggedly this year. Should Burrow emerge from a successful season relatively free of dings and dents, at least one of the Bengals’ offensive lineman are headed to Orlando. It will be easier for us as a collective football-watching society to accept the idea that the new additions changed the face of this unit, instead of the idea that some of the developing players remaining actually, well, developed."
Burrow will be in the MVP conversation if Collins, Karras and Cappa deliver in 2022. There's no reason why the Bengals can't have one of the best offenses in all of football if the offensive line can hold up.
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