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Sporting News Picks the NFL 2019 Division Winners – Where Do the Bengals Land?

It’s that time of the year when national pundits start to look ahead and pick records for teams around the league, as well as pick the winners of the divisions.

Sporting News is out with their 2019 predictions, and they have their picks in for the AFC North.

The longtime company picks the Browns, who made a ton of offseason pickups as the team to beat, as they say they will go 11-5.

Next up would be the Steelers, who still will win double-digit games, but fall a game short in the division to Cleveland going 10-6.

The third place team will be the Baltimore Ravens, who will end the year at 8-8. Last are the Bengals, who will win just five games going 5-11.

Here’s the complete rundown of who Sporting News likes along with the Super Bowl teams.

LB Vontaze Burfict Slams the Bengals; Says Team Didn’t Get Along

Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who spent his first seven National Football League seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, took a clear shot at his former team with a quote in a story by The Associated Press’ Michael Wagaman previewing the Raiders’ upcoming appearance in HBO’s Hard Knocks, Dave Clark of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

“I just think it’s exciting for people to see what type of team we have because the team chemistry we have is just amazing,” Burfict said. “This is my second team, but it’s the first time I’ve had a team like this and everybody gets along. It doesn’t matter what type of day it is. We’re all here to see each other get better and motivate each other. We’ve got a lot of characters, in a good way.”

The Bengals are scheduled to visit the Raiders in Week 11 – on Nov. 17.

The 28-year-old Burfict signed a one-year contract with the Raiders in March. He insisted in May in an ESPN article that he is “not a dirty player” and that “every team plays a little bit after the whistle.”

The Bengals First Quarter Schedule is Not Going to Be Easy

The 2019 Cincinnati Bengals have a tough road ahead of them as they will start the season minus maybe their biggest offensive playmaker in receiver A.J. Green.

Green was lost early in camp with an ankle injury and did have surgery, which means he likely will miss at least the first two to three games of the 2019 campaign.

If the Bengals are going to get off to a quick start in 2019, it is not going to be easy, as check this out the team will start the season with three of the first four games on the road.

Here’s how the first quarter of the season stacks up for new head coach Zac Taylor and the Bengals as they look to make some noise in what looks to be a super competitive AFC North.

Week One – at Seattle

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks will provide a very tough week one opponent for the Bengals, who will have to travel 1400 plus miles to play in Seattle.

The Hawks at home are never easy, and if the Bengals can find a way to somehow hang in a get a win in Seattle, it could set up Taylor and the team with a nice run to start the year.

It won’t be easy though, as the Hawks are looking to get back to the level they were when they had the ‘Legion of Boom’ defense from a few years ago.

Week Two – Vs San Francisco

The Bengals are back at Paul Brown Stadium in Week two as they will play host to the San Francisco 49ers, a team that is looking themselves to get back to a competitive level in 2019.

The Niners will have back the services of quarterback Jimmy garoppolo, who missed all but three games last season due to injury.

These are two very evenly matched teams, but again the Bengals need to get this win as it’s their only home game of the first four.

Week Three – At Buffalo

The Bills provide an interesting week three game, as second-year QB Josh Allen can run with the ball as well as any QB in the league.

The Bills at home are again never easy, and the Bengals will need to get off to a quick start and hold Allen and the rest of the Buffalo offense in check.

A win again on the road for the Bengals will be a huge boost.

Week Four – At Pittsburgh

Last season the Bengals put up a week 17 fight at Heinz Field, but fell short losing late to their rivals 13-10.

This could be the game that sets up the rest of the season, as the Steelers are nowhere near as good as they have been losing Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, but they are still dangerous.

Get ready for the usual knock down, drag out fight between these two rivals.

Joe Mixon Might be the Key to a Successful Offense for the Bengals in 2019

Last season Bengals second-year running back Joe Mixon ran for 1168 yards and eight scores, and put up nearly five yards per carry, rushing for 4.8 yards every time he touched the ball.

Now many online casinos in PA are not predicting big things for the Bengals this season, many thinking that this team is only going win between three and five games, and that the AFC North is going to be a three-way fight between the Browns, Steelers and Ravens.

Mixon can be a huge part of changing that narrative this season, as many feel that he is going to be the biggest and best offensive player for the team in 2019.

The running back has already been talking up new head coach Zac Taylor, saying that he feels the Bengals offense is going to be a lot more dangerous than people think.

“Just the stuff that coach Taylor does. Putting the back in the best position to win one-on-one battles. I feel like for it being a one-on-one battle, no elite running back should get stopped in a one-on-one battle,” Mixon said to The Enquirer.

“That’s how you have to view certain things, at the end of the day, by him putting me in that position, and by me doing the stuff over the years, that’s the stuff that puts a smile on my face. By me having the skillset that I have, I will be able to excel in those areas.”

The team is already hurting with not having the services of leading wide out A.J. Green for a couple of games into the regular season due to an ankle injury, but it will give a chance for Tyler Boyd among others that can step into the leading receiver role.

While it will be up to Taylor, quarterback Andy Dalton and rest of the passing game to figure out how it will go, having a healthy and motivated Mixon will help out in more ways than one.

Mixon is beyond excited about what he can do with Taylor’s offense, as after seeing what he did with Todd Gurley and the Rams last year, the combo of Mixon and Taylor could be a match made in heaven.

“You see the film and you see the stuff that he can do. Everybody can’t do what Todd (Gurley) is able to do in that offense. Todd is an elite running back,” Mixon said.

“You aren’t gonna find no Todd Gurley, in the backyard or on the street. But by me feeling like I’m elite and by me playing at that level, it’s right for me to have a smile on my face like ‘damn, I feel like I can do that same thing,’ at the end of the day, there is only one way to do it…go out there and go do it.”

Who Belongs as the Four Faces of the ‘Cincinnati Bengals Mount Rushmore’?

If you’ve never been to Mount Rushmore National Memorial it’s a sculpture that needs to be seen to be believed.

The memorial idolizes four of the founding fathers of America – U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

When you talk about founding in the Cincinnati Bengals, there’s a great debate as to what players belong on the team’s Mount Rushmore.

Time will pass but if you go back into the history of the organization, there’s some great players that without a doubt make up the best in franchise history.

Today is time for the debate to rage on, but here’s our choices for the four players that belong on the Mount Rushmore of the Bengals.

1. Anthony Munoz

Munoz is the Bengals’ only Hall of Fame inductee, and a no-brainer for best player in the history of the franchise.

The beast on the line started 183 of 185 games for the Bengals between 1980 and 1992. His 185 games played ranks him fifth in Bengals history.

He anchored an offensive line that made it to the Super Bowl in 1988 and performed well enough to make 11 consecutive Pro Bowls from 1981-91, and to this day many lineman look up to the way that Munoz played the game and try to imitate the way that he did it – and for good reason.

2. Boomer Esiason

The lefty throwing quarterback had a magical run for the Bengals back in the last 80’s, and mostly will be remembered for his MVP season in 1988 when he led the team to a Super Bowl showdown with Joe Montana and the 49’ers.

The quarterback had his ups and downs with the team and its fans before he eventually left to play elsewhere, but overall should still be remembered for all the good things he did for the franchise.

He played in 134 games in Cincinnati, starting 123 of them. Esiason’s 27,149 passing yards are second in Bengals history. Boomer’s performance against the Rams in 1990, in which he threw for 490 yards, remains the best passing performance for the Bengals.

3. Chad Johnson/Ochocinco

If you want to talk about having a flair for the dramatics, no one that followed the Bengals in the late 2000’s can deny just how good Chad Johnson/Ochocinco was.

He dominated games for the Bengals at a time when they finally were gaining respect in the NFL with Marvin Lewis getting the team to the postseason.

Johnson’s 10,783 receiving yards is the most in Bengals history by over 3,000 yards. His six Pro Bowl appearances ties for second in franchise history, and his 66 touchdowns ranks first.

And just who could forget the touchdown celebrations that made the Top 10 in Sportscenter each and every Sunday?

4. Ken Anderson

Before there was Boomer there was Ken Anderson, a no-nonsense quarterback who threw the ball about as well as any QB in the NFL during the late 70’s and 80’s.

Anderson led the Bengals to the Super Bowl in January of 1982, overcoming the coldest game on record in NFL history in the AFC Title game at Riverfront beating HOF QB Dan Fouts and the Chargers.

He remains the franchise leader in passing yards with 32,838. His 197 touchdown passes also ranks first for the Bengals.

Anderson was a member of the Bengals.com Hall of Fame inaugural class, and 100 percent deserves to be on the Mount Rushmore for the Bengals.

Joe Mixon Feels the Bengals Offense Will Give Teams Headaches in 2019

Joe Mixon doesn’t seem to care if no one else believes in the Bengals as the 2019 season gets closer by the day – he feels this year’s team has potential.

The Bengals lead back said via the Dayton Daily News that the Bengals are going to be better than people think, and that the teams offense is going to be dangerous.

“Schematically, you know Coach Taylor has come in, the way he’s got it set up, it’s crazy,” Mixon said.

“It’s night and day from what everyone has seen these past years from the old Bengals. Coach Taylor, he’s got it where it’s going to be a nightmare for the defense. I look forward to it. Everybody has to take it upon themselves to be the best of themselves in this offense. You can count on the people and leaders out there to deliver.”

Mixon seems to feel that the Bengals offense is going to be very much like that of the NFC Champion Rams of last season, and that Taylor is going to be the driving force behind it.

“The film speaks for itself,” Mixon said.

“You see the Rams running wild all day. We’ve got that same offense. I would think we have better players than them with these offensive weapons. I would think we can do the same stuff, if not more, than they can.”

The Bengals already have injury issues with A.J. Green missing time into the season with an ankle injury, but with the hopeful continued emergence from wide out Tyler Boyd and Mixon leading the run game, the Bengals are hoping that Mixon’s words ring true about being dangerous once the season begins.

A.J. Green to Miss Games Into the Regular Season with Ankle Injury

A.J. Green’s timeframe to return to the field is now longer than previously anticipated, Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com reports.

Following his ankle surgery on Tuesday, Green is expected to miss multiple regular-season games, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. Bengals coach Zac Taylor confirmed that news Tuesday afternoon.

“I hate to put weeks on it,” Taylor told reporters, per Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic, “but we are ready for him to come back when he feels healthy and ready to go and hopefully it’s not more than a couple games.”

Green underwent surgery on Tuesday morning to clean out his sprained left ankle that he injured in practice on Saturday. It was understood before the surgery that Green still had a shot to play in Cincinnati’s Week 1 opener against the Seattle Seahawks. But following further examination, Green is now expected to miss not just the opener but the first part of the Bengals’ 2019 campaign, however long that is.

Bengals Leading WR A.J. Green Carted Off with Ankle Injury

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green was carted off the field after being injured in practice Saturday according to Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Green was running a go route against cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick when he went down. He came up limping and had to be helped off the field. Green talked to team doctors and then punched the bench and yelled before walking to the cart as the crowd at practice chanted his name. Green was later seen leaving the team facility on crutches.

Green, who turns 31 years old next week, played in only nine games in 2018 due to a toe injury and failed to be named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his illustrious career.

He is in the final year of his current contract, making $12 million in base salary and counting $15.2 million against the salary cap in 2019. Team owner Mike Brown said this spring that the Bengals would not hesitate to extend Green’s deal.