Keys to Bengals making playoffs part one
The Cincinnati Bengals have missed the playoffs that last two seasons after a five-year stretch. What will they have to do to return in 2018?
The Cincinnati Bengals have talked all offseason about being in win-now mode. After two consecutive seasons of missing the playoffs, the team enters the 2018 season in the hopes of getting back there. Only this time, they would like to win one. Since head coach Marvin Lewis took over in 2003, Cincinnati has been to the playoffs seven times but has yet to win a single playoff game.
Before the team can talk about winning a playoff game they have to return to the playoffs. The first step would likely be winning the division which they have only done three times in the last ten years. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been the top team in the division for years and the Baltimore Ravens have been in the mixture over the last decade. If Cincinnati wants to return to the playoffs in 2018, they will have to win games within their division.
Dating back to 2009, the Bengals have only defeated the Steelers five times in their 15 contentions including the AFC Wild Card Playoff game in 2015. Pittsburgh has had the Bengals number over recent years winning all but two of seven games since 2013. Could this be the season that Cincinnati gets the better of Pittsburgh?
The Steelers have plenty of their own question marks going into the 2018 season. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has seen some decline over the last couple seasons and the drama of drafting another quarterback this offseason has caused some drama. Will that push Roethlisberger to play better or will it cause too many problems? Pittsburgh was right to draft Mason Rudolph with Big Ben getting older and contemplating retirement after each of the last few seasons.
There’s also the drama with running back Le’Veon Bell this offseason. Bell has been searching for a huge payday the last couple seasons wanting to set the running back market higher. Pittsburgh has made offers that Bell has declined and enters his second year under the franchise tag. Bell has also refused to make it to OTA’s this offseason once again after sitting out all of training camp and preseason last year.
Much like the Bengals, this is the season for the Steelers to make a run with their talented roster. Big Ben will have plenty of offensive weapons including wide receivers Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and running back Le’Veon Bell. Sitting behind an outstanding offensive line, Ben has all the pieces to make a run this year. The question is, will he be up for the task at 36-years-old?
Next: What Bengals positions have the biggest question marks in 2018?
Cincinnati has to prove they are not the little brother in the division any longer this season. Their secondary has struggled in years past covering the talents of the Pittsburgh weapons, but maybe new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin can turn that around. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor will have to give the defense some help this year and turn around the offense that ranked last in yards per game in 2017.