The Bengals may have a tough schedule, but there is definitely a path to the postseason. NFL Network analysts give the team one route to get there.
NFL Network has been doing a video series breaking down each team’s schedule. After an initial pass at the schedule, the analysts tweak what they need to in order to get that team in a position to make the playoffs. James Jones and Maurice Jones-Drew took a look at the Bengals’ 2018 schedule, and found a way to get them in the playoffs without stretching too much.
On the first run through, they had the Bengals going 8-8, which would almost certainly result in missing the playoffs. This was surprising since the analysts gave the Bengals some generous wins, even on the first time through. They had the Bengals winning vs Baltimore, at Carolina, vs Miami, vs Pittsburgh, vs New Orleans, at Baltimore, vs Cleveland, and vs Oakland. On the other hand, they had the Bengals losing at Indianapolis, at Atlanta, at Kansas City, vs Tampa Bay, vs Denver, at Los Angeles, at Cleveland, and at Pittsburgh.
Overall, this initial breakdown was pretty balanced. While there were some really strong wins, there were also some bad losses. Knowing this unit, there will almost certainly be a mix of both. The guys had the Bengals going 6-2 at home, but losing to the Buccaneers and Broncos at home. Both the Buccs and Broncos were worse than the Bengals last year, and should be again next season. They also had Cincinnati losing at Cleveland and Indianapolis, both of whom were also worse than the Bengals. Especially if Andrew Luck is still hurt, both of these would be bad losses, too.
In order to get the Bengals into the playoffs, the analysts gave the Bengals the other two home games. Against Tampa Bay and Denver, the Bengals will very likely be favored at home, so this is not an absurd stretch. They kept the losses to Indy and Cleveland, but it is reasonable to expect the Bengals to trip up along the way.
The end result was a record of 10-6, which would probably give the team a wild card berth. In this iteration, the Bengals go 8-0 at home and 2-6 on the road, which is a bit extreme. However, Cincinnati has played excellently at home in recent years. Also, their home games are easier than their road games this year. They have four road games against last year playoffs teams (Carolina, Atlanta, Kansas City, Pittsburgh), of which the analysts have the Bengals winning one. They also have the team picking up another two wins over playoff teams at home over Pittsburgh and New Orleans.
At the end of the video, the analysts made a very potent point about this Bengals team. This team can feasibly make the playoffs, but they will have to win a couple tough games. If they can take care of business at home and win their easy games, they won’t need much more. This team just has to win a couple huge games to get to double-digit wins. It might not be a cakewalk, but this team is certainly capable of making the playoffs. NFL Network agrees.