One analyst thinks he is.
The Cincinnati Bengals have finished dead last in the AFC North for three straight seasons. That’s as painful to type as it is to read.
The team just hasn’t been the same since A.J. Green’s decline. Mixed that with injuries and a new coaching staff, and it’s resulted in just six wins over the past two seasons and a mere 12 over the last three.
The table are hopeful to be turning soon though as Joe Burrow is seemingly growing into more of a leader by the day, and the team is accumulating young talent that can no longer go unnoticed.
But, can they make the playoffs as soon as this season?
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer feels that if they can get big-time production from first-round draft pick Ja’Marr Chase then it might be a possibility. Here’s how Breer answered the question asked by a reader.
“Coming off a year off, Ja’Marr Chase will need to be the No. 1 receiver he was at LSU, which the Bengals had missed with A.J. Green’s decline. (Good sign: Justin Jefferson’s rookie year showed the learning curve coming from Joe Brady’s offense in Baton Rouge is manageable.),” Breer wrote.
The Bengals have the pieces on both sides of the ball, but the real question is whether or not they can get them all on the same page quick enough. From Burrow coming back to several new pieces in the secondary to many new faces on the offensive line, the Bengals have their work cut out for them.
But, at the end of the day, Breer could be right.
It could all be on if Chase can explode on to the scene much like Jefferson did. Chase recorded 20 touchdowns on just 84 receptions as a sophomore at LSU, playing alongside Burrow during his final collegiate season.
The speed and skill are there, and if he can step into the spotlight, it could propel the Bengals, especially with the Steelers likely taking a step backwards. That said, in about 100 days, we’ll see if this team is the real deal or not.