When building an NFL team from the ground up as the Cincinnati Bengals have done over the franchise’s history, it’s typically easier to project when the window of oppurtunity will be for them to compete for a playoff berth, a division title, the AFC Championship, and eventually make a run at the Super Bowl. This is Part I of our 4-part “Window of Opportunity” series, in which we look at the Bengals’ window in 2013, and in the foreseeable future.
Jan 5, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterbackAndy Dalton
(14) walks off the field after a game against the Houston Texans in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The Bengals are already coming off consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in three decades, and anything less than a third-consecutive trip to the postseason (would be first 3-peat in franchise history) would be viewed as a major disappointment.
But neither playoff appearance was one Bengals players or fans will want to remember, as they were bounced in the Wild Card round both times. To make matters worse, it was at the hands of the Houston Texans, a team that is lacking an elite quarterback, and from a talent standpoint, is on the same level as Cincinnati.
In other words, if the Bengals can’t even beat the Texans, then they have no hope of taking the next step. The common theme in both losses were the Bengals’ inability to maintain any consistent offensive flow, as they scored 10 and 13 points respectively in the losses.
Wide receiver A.J. Green is Cincinnati’s best offensive weapon, but he’s been held in check for the most part in both contests (5 rec. for 47 yards in 2012, 5 for 80 in ’13). But the Bengals have been devoid of playmakers elsewhere who could make the Texans pay for focusing their defense on stopping Green.