Cincinnati Bengals: Why USA Today’s projection might be wrong

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 09: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass in the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 9, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 09: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass in the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 9, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

I’ll tell you right now that this article is going to sound weird at first, but I promise all fans of the Cincinnati Bengals, it will make sense at the end.

If you are a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, let me tell you about a team that the experts and analysts predicted could only win between two to maybe six games, at most.  This team had one of the worst offensive lines in football, consistently committed drive-killing penalties, and gave up plenty of sacks. Enough sacks that people felt that they were a liability to the health of their quarterback, and justifiably considering his most recent injury history.

This team’s quarterback has had two seasons marred by injury, and even though he started his career by consistently leading his team to the playoffs, the team has struggled as a whole and failed to make the postseason the past three seasons. However, when this teams quarterback WAS on the field, his individual play has been consistent and occasionally exceptional. That said, it had not equated to team success. His most recent injury even caused some to speculate that his time might be over with the franchise. The team had reaffirmed that he was their QB for the following season, despite those who were skeptical.

This team’s defense is mostly young players overlooked by the national media. Probably because they have ranked in the basement of the NFL’s defenses for the past 2 seasons. There’s honestly not a lot of hope that they will be much better, because they have a huge question mark as to how much improvement can be reasonably expected. This is because they have a first-time defensive coordinator who was hired under unusual conditions.

In fact, this team’s entire coaching staff is surrounded by uncertainty due to their first-time head coach. Someone who many believe is not ready for the big seat but is simply riding the coattails of the exceptional coach he assisted during the Super Bowl last season.  Not only do people question whether he is ready to turn around a struggling franchise, but many people question the viability of a coaching staff that was assembled under extreme duress.  Causing many people to ask if the best coaching candidates even WANT to come and work for this franchise, considering the high profile rejection experienced during the off-season.

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Of course, this team is projected to be 2-14 in the USA Today article, written by Nate Davis. It’s only reasonable that he doesn’t have enough information available to him to realize that a new coaching staff could elevate the entire team to return to the playoffs. The USA Today projections I’m referencing can be seen in the following tweets.

Of course, the team I’m talking about is the Indianapolis Colts prior to the start of the 2018 season. Sounds kind familiar, doesn’t it?

I know you might have to go back and read this article again to believe me, but everything I just wrote is “technically” true for both the 2018 Colts and the current 2019 Bengals.  However, many of the things that analysts raised as concerns about the Colts, wound up working out in their favor and contributing to the success of the team.

My point is simple, NFL prognosticators have a hard time judging the impact that a rookie head coach can have on a team. The same reasons Nate Davis couldn’t predict the Colts success last season is the exact same reason why his USA Today prediction has the Cincinnati Bengals going 3-13. Guessing every single team’s record is next to impossible, so he’s bound to be wrong somewhere. I guess he just decided to be wrong about the Bengals this year.

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For the handful of similarities that the Colts and Bengals share, I understand there are just as many differences. For example, the Colts drafted Quenton Nelson to help improve their offensive line, while our rookie offensive lineman, Jonah Williams is out for the season. So maybe things don’t go quite as well for the Cincinnati Bengals as it did for the Colts last year, with the bigger point being that anything is possible.