The Buzz:The Cincinnati Bengals have been to the postseason in each of the past five years, finishing atop the division two of the past three seasons. In 2015, the Bengals became the first team in the AFC North to ever a start a year 8-0. Marvin Lewis has been the commander of the troops since 2003, having guided the Bengals to the playoffs seven times. Although postseason success has proved elusive, Cincinnati has captured at least 10 wins in each of the past four seasons and it finished 12-4 in 2015.
The Staples: **Sixth-year QB Andy Dalton enters 2016 with unfinished business. His season was cut short due to a thumb injury sustained in Week 14 against the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers, the team that ended the Bengals' season in the wild card round of the playoffs. The TCU product compiled an MVP-type season, throwing for 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions while posting a QB rating of 106.3.
The Red Rifle's favorite target is five-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green, who has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark each season since entering the NFL in 2011. Green, who averaged 15.1 yards per catch in 2015 and totaled 10 TDs, is one of the top vertical threats in football.
Fresh Faces:While Dalton feels at home in the organization, there are some new faces he is welcoming in. Former Patriot Brandon LaFell gets the starting nod across from Green and rookie receiver Tyler Boyd figures to get a lot playing time as well.. Boyd, a Pitt product drafted in the second round, is part of a new look receiving corps — one of five receivers who were not on the active roster on opening day last season. Much like the Jets, the Bengals have three rookie wideouts.
The Bengals also have a new play caller, but it's a familiar face for Dalton. Ken Zampese, the team's QBs Coach since 2003, was promoted to offensive coordinator after Hue Jackson took the head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns.
The Anchors: **Defensively, the Bengals are led by four-time Pro Bowl DT Geno Atkins. The Georgia product registered 11 sacks in 2015 along with 42 total tackles and is a force in the interior. He is the rock in the middle of a 4-3 unit that finished 11th overall each of the past two seasons.
On the Cusp of History:LB Karlos Dansby needs one interception to become the fifth 'backer in NFL history to record 40 sacks and 20 interceptions. This is the 13th-year vet's first season in Cincinnati after two seasons with the Browns.
**The Bengals will be without two key players: TE Tyler Eifert (ankle) and LB Vontaze Burfict (suspension).
Eifert had a breakout season last year, catching 13 touchdowns in as many games, and Burfict finished fourth on the team in total tackles with 74.