- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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According to our ESPN.com panel, the Cincinnati Bengals remain the leading candidate in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.
The Bengals once again rated last in ESPN.com's NFL Power Rankings. They held the same ranking entering the preseason. Cincinnati didn't do anything to change that perception the past several weeks.
For the record, I voted the Bengals No. 31. I saw the Carolina Panthers play the Bengals in the third preseason game and thought Cincinnati was a notch better.
But it's clearly a rebuilding year for the Bengals. Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton will be one of the biggest keys.
If the rookie second-round pick plays better than expected, the young Bengals will have a chance to upset a few teams. But if Dalton flames out, the Bengals will have trouble beating anyone. That would put them firmly in the Luck sweepstakes.
Cincinnati will have a good gauge of where the team stands Sunday when it travels to play the Cleveland Browns, who are also rebuilding under rookie head coach Pat Shurmur.