2015 NFL Preview: Cincinnati Bengals

2015 NFL Preview: Cincinnati Bengals

Oh those Cincinnati Bengals. They last won a playoff game way back in January 1991, when Boomer Esiason was under center and some guy named Icky Woods was clinging to the last remnants of his short-lived, albeit eventful, career. In other words, a long freaking time ago. Under current head coach Marvin Lewis, the Bengals have advanced to the postseason five of the last six years, including four straight, but produced zero victories. In fact, they haven’t eclipsed 14 points in the playoffs since 2005. Yeah, that’s bad. In the Super Bowl or bust era of the NFL, it’s amazing Lewis still has a job. The tombstones of coaches who can’t win in January are peppered throughout the NFL coaching cemetery. It’s safe to say that should Lewis fail to advance to or come out ahead in the playoffs again, he will be looking for work in 2016. Here’s a preview of the 2015 Cincinnati Bengals.

Outlook: From a talent standpoint, Cincinnati is one of the richest teams in the league. They have Pro Bowlers on both sides of the ball, and afforded themselves a quality Draft in April to keep the talent pool full. Andy Dalton is still the quarterback; he tossed a pathetic and career worst 19 touchdowns in 16 starts a season ago. Some of that meager production can be attributed to injuries to A.J. Green and Marvin Jones, both of whom should be healthy when training camp opens. The backfield duo of Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard is one of the best in the NFL, and the defense returns the majority of starters from 2014. The schedule is difficult and a complete collapse is a distinct possibility.

Later, dude: Tight end Jermaine Gresham never quite lived up to his first-round draft status and is currently a free agent. There’s a always a chance Cincy invites him back, but it’s highly unlikely. Veteran cornerback Terence Newman did solid work for three years, but his age (36) and the emergence of Dre Kirkpatrick made him expendable, so he’s a Viking. Safety Taylor Mays has been a bust since entering the league in 2010 and did nothing in the last four years to prove otherwise. He is now Detroit’s problem.

Welcome aboard: Defensive end Michael Johnson took the money and ran to Tampa Bay last offseason, which proved to be a horrible mistake after totaling 4 sacks and a laughable 27 tackles in 14 games. Well, he’s back, at a reduced price, and is poised for a bounce back campaign. Reserve defensive tackle Pat Sims is a decent run-stopper who will provide immediate depth behind Geno Atkins. The front office loaded up on young offensive linemen in the first two rounds of April’s Draft, selecting Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher. Neither has to start right now, but both could be called upon if incumbents Andre Smith and/or Andrew Whitworth get hurt or flop. Tight end Tyler Kroft and corner Josh Shaw are other rookies who will contribute in year one.

Over/Under wins – 8.5: A complete Andy Dalton meltdown seems imminent, but a healthy set of playmakers and an above average defense should successfully navigate a schedule that includes the NFC West, Denver, San Diego, Kansas City, and Buffalo.

Bet the Over