John Harbaugh says Bengals “most talented team” in NFL—is he right?

Jim Seki dives into PFF's metrics to see if Harbaugh's comments about the Bengals hold water.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

(AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

John Harbaugh says Bengals “most talented team” in NFL—is he right?

Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh gave the Bengals some high praise before their showdown this weekend, saying that Cincinnati is “the most talented team in the league.”

How valid is Harbaugh’s take?

Starting at the quarterback position, Andy Dalton currently ranks ninth among all QBs through Week 2, with a +2.5 overall grade. He started with a +2.9 grade against the Raiders, but dropped off against the Chargers this past week (-0.4). As we’ve seen with Dalton in the past, he has stretches of highs and lows, resulting in him never finishing higher than 16th in our QB rankings. Even though his 81.1 percent accuracy rate is fifth-best this season, he’s finished around 71.0 percent in the last four years. Until we see more games from Dalton in 2015 with consistent production, he will remain an average starter in the NFL.

Wide receiver A.J. Green had the best yards per route run (YPRR) last year at 2.96, and 10th-best in 2013 (2.28).

With the departure of Jermaine Gresham, tight end Tyler Eifert has seen a larger role in the offense (he was also out nearly all of last season due to a Week 1 injury). He currently owns the third-best overall TE grade this year (+5.4), and an eighth-best 2.68 YPRR. Eifert looks poised for a solid season, but he’s not in the same category as Rob Gronkowski just yet.

The Bengals offensive line has been stellar since Dalton’s arrival—in that span, they’ve never finished worse than third in pass-block efficiency. Only five teams have yet to give up a QB sack this year, Cincinnati being one of them.

The Bengals offense, through two weeks, owns the No. 2 grade in our system (behind the Steelers). On defense, Marvin Lewis’ crew is in the No. 6 slot.

The Bengals are currently No. 4 in the PFF power rankings entering Week 3, behind the Packers, Patriots, and Broncos.

While most might dismiss Harbaugh’s statement as pre-game hype, our metrics show that Cincinnati certainly deserves to be in the conversation among the best NFL teams through the first two weeks of the 2015 season, from a pure production standpoint.

  • crosseyedlemon

    Harbaugh obviously made the comment to challenge his own players as any coach of an 0-2 team would do. Spotting a division rival a 3 game lead this early in the season would put Harbaugh on the hot seat. Of course if the Ravens crash and burn this year John can always call brother Jim and ask about the job openings at Michigan.