Here’s a look at the Super Bowl prospects of the Cincinnati Bengals, who finished the season 7-9. The tiers consist of: Realistic Super Bowl expectations; Should contend, but there are question marks; Middle of the pack; Lots of work to do; and Nowhere close.
Westgate odds of winning Super Bowl LIII: 80-1
Lots of work to do: The Bengals were considered a Super Bowl contender just three seasons ago, but losing some key pieces like Marvin Jones and Andrew Whitworth hurt their offense. The roster doesn't need to be completely overhauled because they do have key pieces like Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap on the defensive line, A.J. Green at wide receiver. There's also up-and-comers like pass rusher Carl Lawson, cornerback William Jackson III and running back Joe Mixon.
However, instead of making widespread changes, the Bengals chose to bring back Marvin Lewis and most of his staff, although they parted ways with several assistants and hired respected coaches to oversee the offensive line and quarterbacks. The team, which has often shied away from making big moves in free agency, needs to at least consider that avenue to fix the offensive line. If not, they need to aggressively pursue one in the draft. They need to figure out how to get something out of 2016 first-round pick John Ross, who played fewer than 20 snaps last season. A play for a tight end could be in line if oft-injured Tyler Eifert doesn't re-sign, and the Bengals should also pursue a new middle linebacker.