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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Cincinnati Bengals

Throughout the 2021 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Here is where the Cincinnati Bengals rank in terms of average, best and worst:

Below you will find a Week 14 roundup for the Bengals in our consensus 2021 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 11

Player who must step up: S Jessie Bates III

In November, Bates said his contract season hasn't been as good as he wanted it to be. After Pro Football Focus graded Bates as the NFL's top safety in 2020, Bates hasn't been able to carry that production into 2021. Some of that can be chalked up to the stalled contract negotiations that cast a cloud over Bates at the start of the season. While he has had some good moments, Bates still has plenty of work to do in order to prove he is worth being paid as one of the NFL's best safeties. Of course, the Bengals using the franchise tag on him for 2022 is the most likely scenario. But in addition to potentially making himself some extra money, he could boost a Cincinnati defense that is suddenly lacking some key players during the final month of the season. -- Ben Baby

NFL.com -- Rank: 11

The Bengals had a chance for their first three-game winning streak of the season ... and fell on their faces. Hosting the Chargers in front of a fired-up crowd at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincy surrendered the game's first 24 points, mounted a comeback to cut the deficit to 2, then watched a rare Joe Mixon fumble kick-start a final Bolts surge in a 41-22 loss. Injuries are also a concern. Joe Burrow gutted his way through the game after suffering a dislocated pinkie in the first quarter, while starting cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and linebacker Logan Wilson were both knocked out the game with injuries. The AFC North remains there for the taking ... but you never know which version of the Bengals is going to show up.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 12

They fell way behind against the Chargers, which was too much to overcome. They did a bad job protecting Joe Burrow.

USA Today -- Rank: 12

Issues under center persist, QB Joe Burrow with 16 turnovers (including a league-worst 14 INTs) while enduring 36 sacks, which have cost him a league-high 254 yards. And now Nick Bosa is coming to town.

The Athletic -- Rank: 13

Best-case scenario: Don't stop dreaming about an AFC North title, Cincinnati. The loss to the Chargers was tough for the Bengals' wild-card hopes (they sit sixth, one spot ahead of Buffalo), but somehow a division title still seems attainable. The path there means not dropping winnable games the next two weeks against the 49ers and Broncos, and then proving they belong in games against Baltimore, Kansas City and Cleveland (revenge for the 41-16 loss last month) to close out of the regular season.

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