CINCINNATI BENGALS (10-6-1)
New faces: LB A.J. Hawk, QB AJ McCarron, DE Michael Johnson.
Key losses: CB Terence Newman, TE Jermaine Gresham, S Taylor Mays.
Strengths: WR, RB, DL.
Weaknesses: LB, DB.
What’s New: Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is stressing the running game this year, hoping it takes some of the pressure off Andy Dalton to move the offense. Hawk takes over for LB Vontaze Burfict, who missed all of training camp recovering from his second knee operation. Dre Kirkpatrick starts at cornerback in place of Newman, who went to Minnesota as a free agent.
Fantasy Tip: A.J. Green was limited to only 13 games because of turf toe and a concussion, but caught 69 passes for 1,041 yards and six touchdowns. As long as he’s healthy, he’ll be Dalton’s favorite target. Second-year RB Jeremy Hill should also have bigger numbers with the emphasis on the running game. He picked up 1,124 yards as a rookie, with nine TDs.
Expectations: No other team has its entire season tied up in one game. The Bengals have reached the playoffs each of the last four seasons, but are 0-4. Another first-round flameout – or a failure to even reach the playoffs – could bring significant changes in a roster that’s remained virtually the same the last few years. With this team, it’s all about that first postseason game.