A former doormat takes his place among the elite,
while a gold-standard franchise looks primed for a dip.
Everyone knows that things change rapidly in the NFL,
but in the AFC North, the roles reversed at an astonishing pace,
and the Bengals were the main agents of change. After three consecutive last-place finishes,
Cincinnati came within five minutes of the Super Bowl title in February.
His run was fueled first and foremost by Joe Burrow's superstar sophomore season.
He could be even better this year, as this spring the Bengals addressed
their biggest weakness, a shaky offensive line,
by adding three new starters in free agency. Former Cowboys right tackle L'El Collins,
former Bucs right guard Alex Kappa and former Patriots center Ted Karras.
With fourth-round rookie Cordell Volson at left guard,
the Bengals are likely to start the season with four new starters.