We’ll continue a series of opponent preview posts for the New Orleans Saints opponents in 2018. We’ll round out the series previewing one of our AFC opponents: the Cincinnati Bengals. Our friends over at Cincy Jungle took some time to give us Saints fans the scoop on the home of elite WR AJ Green.
Week 10: at the Cincinnati Bengals
Notable free agent additions:
Not really a free agent, but the Bengals acquired Cordy Glenn in a trade with the Bills and he will be starting at left tackle. In free agency, the Bengals added defensive tackle Chris Baker, who will play a pivotal role on the defensive line and replaces Pat Sims who the team did not re-sign in free agency. The Bengals’ biggest free agent acquisition was 2017 tackle leader and former Bills linerbacker Preston Brown who will help stop the run, which was a major weakness for the Bengals in 2017. And, former Giants offensive lineman Bobby Hart was also added in free agency and will compete for the starting right tackle role.
6.5 wins: I’d go with the over as I expect the Bengals to get to eight wins. I’m not overly optimistic about the season as a whole, but I don’t think there’s going to be a regression from last year’s seven-win season.
Most exciting rookie:
I’m excited about too many rookies, but I’d say safety Jessie Bates, the Bengals’ second round pick. He has a decent shot at starting games, not necessarily in Week 1, but as the season goes on. He’s a ballhawk, playmaker and his football IQ is off-the-charts. It’s also funny to say, but I’m super excited about first round pick and former Ohio State center Billy Price. Bengals fans are obsessed with the center position, which has seen Russell Bodine struggle for four years. Now with a first round pick at the position, things should be trending upward.
Position battle to keep an eye on:
The wide receiver position battle is going to be really fun to watch as there are so many impressive young guys looking to make their mark. There are more good players than thre will be roster spots at the position.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp:
The offensive line is the biggest story of training camp as last year’s unit was abysmal and now the team has a new offensive line coach in Frank Pollack, formerly of the Cowboys. Both the right guard and right tackle spots are open for taking and the competition is going to be interesting. There’s not tons of talent competing for the jobs, but there are some young guys looking to take big leaps.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:
It’s not particularly under the radar, but the Bengals have tons of new coaches who need to whip their units into shape. Marvin Lewis is still head coach (ugh) but there are many new faces among the coaching ranks. Teryl Austin joined the team this offseason as defensive coordinator and he’ll need to build upon a defense that started out 2017 hot, but fizzled out. He has top-tier players at his disposal. How will he use them? Can he help guys like Dre Kirkpatrick to improve? He’ll need to. How Austin transforms the defense and builds upon the things they were already doing well will be key elements to defining the Bengals’ season. If Austin impresses, he has the fast track to becoming Lewis’ successor once he finally steps down or is fired, the former being more likely.
Notable injuries heading into training camp:
Tyler Eifert… as always. The star tight end claimed he was fully healthy when the Bengals re-signed him in free agency, but then he was limited during spring workouts and Marvin Lewis was PISSED. There’s a definite fear that he will show up to training camp not fully healthy and then there’s always a fear that he’ll be injured during the season… again.
The Saints have a tough stretch with the Falcons, Eagles, Rams, and Vikings within a 5-week period. The Bengals are the lone AFC opponent in that stretch, and could easily be a trap-game for New Orleans.
So what says you, you unbiased Saints fans? Can the Saints win an important game on the East Coast? Vote in the poll. Explain in the comments. And make sure you also check out DraftDividends.com, a website for a new book I’m writing currently titled Draft Picks and Dividends: A Fantasy Football Player’s Guide to Understanding the Stock Market.
How will the Saints fare against the Bengals?
This poll is closed