Here’s The Game Day’s Cincinnati Bengals 2021 NFL Preview: 2020 Recap, Team 2021 Outlook, 2021 Betting Tips, and 2021 Fantasy Football Outlook. Be sure to check out more of our preseason NFL coverage here.
Bengals 2021 Team Preview
Cincinnati Bengals 2020 Recap
- Final record: 4-11-1 (3-5 Home / 1-6-1 Away)
- Division regular-season finish: 4th
- Result: Did not qualify for the postseason
The Joe Burrow era began in disappointment, as the Bengals finished last in their division and Burrow tore up his knee in Week 11. Burrow played well before going down, however, reassuring the franchise that they have their quarterback of the future. The Bengals even won two of their final three games without him, ending the year on a high note.
By the time Burrow got hurt, however, Cincinnati’s season was effectively over. Dragged down by poor defense and a shoddy line on both sides of the ball, the Bengals were just 2-7-1 in Burrow’s 10 starts, failing to maximize his talent. Last season exposed weaknesses elsewhere on the roster that Burrow can’t fix, proving that the Bengals still have a ways to go before becoming competitive again.
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Cincinnati Bengals 2021 Offseason Changes
Bengals 2021 Offseason Departures
- B.J. Finney, C, Steelers
- Bobby Hart, OT, Bills
- Geno Atkins, DT, Free Agent
- Ryan Finley, QB, Free Agent
- Carl Lawson, DE, Jets
- A.J. Green, WR, Cardinals
- William Jackson, CB, Football Team
- Shawn Williams, S, Cardinals
- Mackensie Alexander, CB, Vikings
- Giovani Bernard, RB, Buccaneers
- John Ross, WR, Giants
- Alex Erickson, WR, Texans
Bengals 2021 Free-Agency/Offseason Additions
- Trey Hendrickson, DE
- Chidobe Awuzie, CB
- Mike Hilton, CB
- Larry Ogunjobi, DL
- Riley Reiff, OT
- Eli Apple, CB
- Ricardo Allen, S
Bengals 2021 NFL Draft Picks
- Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU (Round 1, Pick 5 Overall)
- Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson (Round 2, Pick 46 Overall)
- Joseph Ossai, DE, Texas (Round 3, Pick 69 Overall)
- Chauncey Golston, DE, Iowa (Round 3, Pick 84 Overall)
- Cameron Sample, DE, Tulane (Round 4, Pick 111 Overall)
- Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU (Round 4, Pick 122 Overall)
- D’Ante Smith, OT, East Carolina (Round 4, Pick 139 Overall)
- Evan McPherson, K, Florida (Round 5, Pick 149 Overall)
- Trey Hill, C, Georgia (Round 6, Pick 190 Overall)
- Chris Evans, RB, Michigan (Round 6, Pick 202 Overall)
- Wyatt Hubert, DE, Kansas State (Round 7, Pick 235)
Cincinnati Bengals 2021 Outlook
Overall, Cincinnati is trending in the right direction, particularly on defense. They improved their defensive front with Trey Hendrickson while bolstering their secondary with the likes of Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton, Eli Apple, and Ricardo Allen. They also made defense a priority in the draft, using four of their first six selections on defensive players.
The Bengals should also be better on offense, especially after grabbing Burrow’s former college teammate Ja’Marr Chase with their first pick in the draft. Cincinnati also strengthened its offensive line by taking Jackson Carman in the second round and signing Riley Reiff in free agency.
These moves won’t turn the Bengals into contenders overnight, as the AFC North is one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. Cincinnati will be better than last year, though, and could potentially win close to half its games.
Cincinnati Bengals 2021 Fantasy Football Preview
The Bengals have some interesting pieces from a fantasy perspective, starting with Joe Burrow, who made a healthy return to training camp. Burrow averaged 17.8 FPPG as a rookie, good for 16th at his position. While he’s still a work in progress, his ceiling will be considerably higher now that he has a familiar weapon in Ja’Marr Chase, who instantly becomes the team’s top receiver. Both should be worthy fantasy starters this year, especially if Cincinnati’s offensive line holds up.
Joe Mixon will also benefit from an improved offensive line, and should continue to be a top target for Burrow out of the backfield. While his ceiling has been limited by Cincinnati’s offensive struggles and tendency to fall behind, a more competitive team should lead to more favorable game scripts this year, resulting in more carries.
Burrow also has solid receiving options in Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, although both may see a reduction in targets with Chase in the picture. In his first eight games of the year with Burrow, Higgins averaged 15.6 PPR points per game, while Boyd was used effectively from the slot. After building a rapport with Burrow last year, expect both to keep getting plenty of looks in 2021.
Cincinnati Bengals 2021 NFL Futures Bet Tips
Bengals To Win Over 6.5 Games (+110)
The Bengals were a 4-11-1 team last season despite losing their two best offensive players (Joe Mixon and Joe Burrow) for large chunks of the season. With better health, offseason improvements, and an extra game on the schedule, the Bengals could potentially double their win total in 2021.
Bengals To Finish Third In AFC North (+400)
Given how loaded the AFC North is, third place is the best Cincinnati can hope for. While the Ravens and Browns aren’t going anywhere, the Steelers collapsed down the stretch last year and could continue to slide if Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t bounce back. If Joe Burrow takes a big step forward this year, the Bengals could leapfrog them in the division.
Bengals To Miss Playoffs (-750)
The Bengals’ 2021 outlook has improved, but they’re not a playoff team just yet. They still have too many question marks on the defensive end, and their offensive line has to provide more protection for Burrow. They could be a playoff team by 2022, but they’re still only the third- or fourth-best team in their own division at the moment.
Joe Burrow To Win AP NFL Comeback Player Of The Year Award (+700)
Burrow currently holds the second-best odds to win the award at DraftKings, tied with Saquon Barkley. In a quarterback-driven league, signal callers typically have the edge with these types of awards. While Dak Prescott is the clear favorite (+210), I could see Burrow winning it if he manages to lead Cincinnati to a wild card spot in his first full season.
Ja’Marr Chase Over 1,025.5 Receiving Yards (-110)
First-round rookie wide receivers don’t always work out, especially ones drafted high (see Henry Ruggs, Corey Davis, Justin Blackmon, etc). However, I don’t see a scenario in which Chase falters. He’s being reunited with his collegiate quarterback in an offense that was 11th in team pass plays per game in 2020. Given that Cincy has the 5th-most vacated targets in the NFL (195), there will be enough opportunity for Chase to flourish and exceed 1,000 receiving yards.