Most media outlets have not been kind to the Bengals, but NFL Network believes Cincinnati could be one of the sleeper teams of the 2018 season.
NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” did a short segment analyzing teams with the best chance to surpass last season’s win total. Peter Schrager, one of the analysts on the show, picked the Bengals as the most likely to increase their win total significantly.
Schrager first addressed the criticism around bringing back long-tenured head coach Marvin Lewis. Obviously, many Bengals fans have been upset that Lewis is coming back for another season. Even we at Stripe Hype have panned the move because it keeps the team static. He brushed this criticism off by saying that the Bengals are not far from a playoff berth. After all, the core of this team – including Lewis – went to five straight playoffs not that long ago. Lewis can get this team back to the playoffs.
Schrager then brought up the both sides of the ball for the Bengals, saying both the offense and defense should be good. He noted that Bill Lazor will be entering his first full season as offensive coordinator. That should inject some creativity into the offense and allow playmakers like Joe Mixon and AJ Green to flourish.
On defense, Schrager didn’t point out anything specific, just claiming that the Bengals would be good on defense. The defense should certainly be the strength of this team, and that starts with coordinator Teryl Austin. Austin comes with high praise from Detroit, and should find roles for many of the Bengals stars as well as the more versatile role players. Long time veterans like Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, and Vontaze Burfict should shine under Austin and carry this unit to a potential top ten season.
One other aspect of the team that Schrager liked is the young players. He specifically noted Joe Mixon and John Ross, last year’s second and first round picks respectively, as two guys who could break out in 2018. Neither player – especially Ross – was able to display their full talents. He also commended this year’s draft class – Billy Price, Jessie Bates II, Sam Hubbard, etc. – and seemed to believe they could make an immediate impact.
To conclude, Schrager threw out that the Bengals could definitely win 10 or 11 games this season. If they reach double digit wins, they would certainly be contenders in the AFC this season. Schrager clearly sees the upside with this Bengals team, and he’s not wrong. This team has the potential to win 3+ more games than they did last season and make waves in the AFC.