BET ON CINCINNATI BENGALS
Paul Brown Stadium
66,535 Seat Stadium
Last year’s record (6-10)
Head Coach: Zac Taylor
Record: First Season
The Cincinnati Bengals finished last season at 6-10 in the AFC North. They have taken over the last-place position in the division from the Cleveland Browns. The season started off well enough with back to back identical 34-23 wins at Indianapolis & vs Baltimore, before losing their first game.
That followed up with two straight wins and a great start at 4-1. They dropped 2 of the next 3 to finish up the first half at 5-3 heading into their bye week. Maybe they should not have taken that week off.
They dropped 7 of their last 8 games to finish the season at 6-10. Their season was truly a tale of two halves.
The second half costs head coach Marvin Lewis his job as well. He was the 2nd longest-tenured coach in the NFL and was with the Bengals for 16 years.
Zac Taylor is the new head coach replacing Marvin Lewis. This is his first NFL head coaching job. His most recent college position was the offensive coordinator at Cincinnati University.
He brought life into the Bearcats offense and was considered one of the bright, offensive-minded coaches out there, a rising star it was said. He has served in the NFL as the Dolphin’s assistant QB coach and is given credit for bringing along QB Ryan Tannehill.
In 2017 he was the Ram's assistant wide receiver coach and was promoted to quarterbacks coach in 2018. Now let’s find out if he is as good as his reputation has been in recent years.
The offense has always belonged to QB Andy Dalton. Last year was no different. The Bengals certainly looked like a playoff team in the first half, then Dalton injured his thumb in November and missed the rest of the season.
When he went down, so did the offense. Despite Dalton missing the latter part of the season, the offense still ranked 17th in points per game. That is not horrible for a 6 win team.
There was talk of moving up in the draft and taking a QB and maybe releasing Dalton this year, but the front office showed faith in him coming back strong this season, but age is getting to be a factor.
They did draft a decent QB, NC State’s Ryan Finley in the 4th round and something tells me he may get some playing time this season. He moved ahead of last year’s backup Jeff Driskel already. The past 3 years have been filled with injuries.
There always seems to be at least one of the skilled position players injured. If this group can all stay healthy for a full season, the offense will be fine. The pieces of the puzzle are still there.
WR’s A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd & John Ross. The running game is in good shape with Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard. The talent is there. Expect better things this year if they can stay healthy.
The defense completely fell apart last season. They were dead last in total defense and 24th in scoring defense. It is sort of surprising the defense was that poor. The defensive line had two Pro Bowlers in Carlos Dunlap & Geno Atkins, Atkins led the team with 10 sacks last year.
Many considered Vontaze Burfict the team leader on defense even when others had stats more impressive. Along with his talents, came headaches. The team let him go and he is now an Oakland Raider.
Many people considered their run defense horrible giving up 138 yards per game, but the pass defense was even worse at 276 yards a game, ranking them dead last against the pass. 2019 has got to be better, it cannot do much worse.
CINCINNATI SPECIAL TEAMS
Randy Bullock returns for his third year as the Bengals placekicker. He was pretty reliable last season making 19 of 23 field goals and three of his four misses were from beyond 50 yards. Kevin Huber is back for his 11th season as Cincinnati’s punter. He must be doing something right to hold that position for 11 years.
2019 CINCINNATI BENGALS OUTLOOK
This could go so many ways. If the injury bug hits again, it could be another year in the basement of the AFC North. Even a healthy team might finish in last place if Cleveland has the kind of year many think they will.
Having the Steelers in the division does not leave much room for error. Baltimore has been hit or miss in recent years, last year was a hit winning the division.
With health being such a huge factor, and history staying healthy is not on their side either, I do not think they are going to escape last place. That does not mean they will be a worse team in 2019. In fact, I think they will be improved, just not enough to surpass the Steelers, Ravens or Browns.
BETONLINE has listed the regular season win total at 5½. So many things went wrong for Cincinnati last season and they still won 6 games, so how can I not take over 5½ wins this year?
They are usually good for an upset or two along the way. There is no such thing as an easy road game in the NFL, so with 8 chances at home, I can picture the team going 4-4 like they did last year or better and picking up a couple of road wins. I am taking OVER 5½ wins.