The Cincinnati Bengals head into the 2018 season in hopes of re-establishing themselves as playoff contenders following two missed seasons.
The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off an ugly showing last season that showed a bit of promise in the final two weeks knocking two teams out of the playoffs. After missing the playoffs two seasons in a row, the Bengals need to prove they are contenders this season. The organization has talked all offseason about winning now, and that’s how they are building this team. It’s time for them to put their money where their mouth is and get it done on the field.
Head coach Marvin Lewis enters his 16th season with the club after being retained this offseason. Lewis is the primary reason that many don’t have faith in the Bengals as he is 0-7 in the playoffs. There has been plenty of turnarounds and changes this offseason around the Bengals team, certainly more than we usually see since Lewis first took over the head coaching position.
Between all of the coaches and players that have been brought in this offseason, it’s still not enough to feel comfortable about the Bengals doing well this season. Every season the team looks solid on paper and then the last two seasons we have seen a disaster each season. Without many holes to fill, Cincinnati improved in multiple areas of the roster including the offensive line with left tackle Cordy Glenn and first-round pick center Billy Price.
Once again, even with all of the changes and improvements, it’s still hard for many to believe that this will be the year that the Bengals will get over the hump. MMQB writer Jonathan Jones is another analyst that needs to see it on the field to believe the hype. He has the Bengals taking a step back this season instead of forward with a prediction of 6-10 record.
"“This designation is more about feel than what I see on paper. Yet again, the Bengals have a solid roster with very few holes (they’ll need to figure out Vontaze Burfict’s spot for the first four games). You have to like their running game, pass catchers and, if rookie center Billy Price is healthy as expected, their offensive line, too. But the Bengals have undersold with solid offenses the past two seasons, finishing in the bottom-third of the league in points in 2016 and ’17. Using the same logic as with the Ravens, the Bengals went 1-5 against playoff teams last season but a paltry 6-4 against the others. It’s fair to wonder if the Bengals, helmed by Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton, have reached their peak without winning a playoff game together.”"
It’s hard for me to see this team taking a step backward this season with all of the new pieces in place. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and his talented and deep defense changing up their schemes for the first time in probably over a decade and then offensive coordinator Bill Lazor having a full offseason to change the offense and build it around quarterback Andy Dalton.
However, we have yet to see anything on the field in the new schemes. There’s also the possibility that one or both schemes prove not to work. Cincinnati absolutely looks improved on paper and with the new coaches in place, I would have to believe they can at least reach a 9-7 record or higher. With Lewis still in command and Dalton under center, there is more proof on why not to believe than why one should. That last remark about Lewis and Dalton possibly reaching their peak together is something I often wonder.