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Many were left scratching their head when Marvin Lewis was retained for the 2018-19 season a year removed from coaching the Cincinnati Bengals to a 7-9 record that proved to be the franchise’s second straight losing campaign following yet another empty trip to the playoffs. Mercifully, the Lewis regime is no longer in the ‘Natti and the Bengals can finally move on from the 15 years that had nothing much to show for them. Having been a part of Sean McVay’s offensive staff in Los Angeles the last two seasons, the hope is that new head coach Zac Taylor’s offensive strengths at the very least turn the fortunes of that unit around in 2019-20. Whether that translates in an enormous bounceback campaign for the Bengals remains to be seen. Hindering that from likely happening will be a defense with tons of question marks that has holes to fill up and down the starting 11.
We’ll start with the good news on offense first. Cincinnati no doubt has talent on that side of the ball. Say what you will about Andy Dalton, the “Red Rocket” has shown in the past that he has what it takes to succeed at the NFL level. He was well on his way towards putting forth one of the best campaigns of his eight-year career before succumbing to the injury bug in Week 11. Even so, he still threw for nearly 2,600 yards and owned a decent 21:11 TD/INT ratio. Most importantly, he started to build solid rapports with Tyler Boyd, John Ross and C.J. Uzomah. All three will be back in Brian Callahan’s mix this season to go along with AJ Green, Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard and hopefully a fully healthy Tyler Eifert. If all of the impact players can remain injury free this season, the Bengals offense is going to be a nightmare for opposing defenses to contain. Should Dalton once again go down which is something that’s occurred in half of the last four seasons, the offense will be in much better shape than in year’s past with NC State’s Ryan Finley now on the roster after being selected in the draft.
Now for the bad news; the defense is likely going to stink! No team in the league had an easier time moving the ball against an opposing defense than that of the Bengals last season. Cincinnati rated out as the No. 32 overall defense with it conceding an eye-popping 413.6 yards per game. In this day and age of the NFL, stop units must figure out a way to control offenses through the air. That’s something the Bengals failed to do in a big way in serving up nearly 276.90 passing yards per game to bring up the rear of the pass defense rankings. On top of all that, opposing ground attacks racked up just over 137.0 yards per game. It all added up to a defense that served up over 28.0 points per game! Unfortunately, not much was done to rectify the situation on that side of the ball in the offseason, so veterans Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins will once again be looked upon as the leaders of this group. In other words, expect the Bengals recent trend of playing to high scorers to continue in 2019-20; Cincy cashed over tickets at a 8-6-1 clip last season.
Cincinnati is the not so proud owner of one of the lowest season win totals this season ( 6 ). It’s also lined as near 23-1 underdogs to win the AFC North with teams like the Browns, Steelers and Ravens lined at 3-1 or shorter. While there is some talent on this roster, especially on the offensive side of the ball, it doesn’t look like the Bengals will experience a complete turnaround in year one of the Taylor regime like the Rams did in McVay’s first go round a few years back. There will however be some juicy spots to back the Bengals on the pointspread this season, so pick your spots!