6 things the Bengals must do to sneak into the playoffs in 2020
By Aaron Burd
After an abysmal 2-14 season, the Cincinnati Bengals look to go from worst to first. To even make the playoffs, they must do these six things.
It was an exciting offseason for the Cincinnati Bengals. After spending big in free agency for the first time in what feels like centuries, they took Heisman winner Joe Burrow with the first pick in the NFL Draft. Nationally, expectations for the Bengals remain low. Among Bengals’ fans, however, expectations are high as ever. Fans should temper these expectations, no team has ever won a Super Bowl with a rookie quarterback. Still, Cincinnati could sneak their way into the playoffs by doing these six things.
Feed the ball to Joe Mixon
With a rookie quarterback leading the offense in Joe Burrow, it will be important for the Bengals to feed the ball to star running back Joe Mixon. The fourth-year running back has a case to make for being the best player on the entire roster and that should become even more evident if Zac Taylor and the Bengals play their cards right.
Mixon has shown what he can do running the ball. However, during his three years in Cincinnati, he hasn’t gotten enough chances to show how talented he is in the passing game. Coming out of college, this was touted as one of the Oklahoma running back’s biggest strengths, drawing comparisons to then Steelers’ back Le’Veon Bell.
In the pros, he has not gotten enough opportunities to show that ability. He has shown flashes of it working in Cincinnati. In 2020, the Bengals should focus more on getting the ball not only to Mixon on the ground but also through the air.
In Mixon’s highest volume season of his career in 2019, he had 313 total touches. In order to take the pressure off of a rookie quarterback, the Bengals would be smart to get that number up closer to 350. If that were to happen, Mixon could show himself to be one of the best running backs in the NFL, if not the very best.
The one issue that could stand in the way of this plan is Mixon’s contract. Given the fact that Mixon is entering the final year of his deal, he could hold out for an extension. If that were to happen, the Bengals would have to either pay him a lucrative contract or be creative with Giovani Bernard and the other running backs. Here’s to hoping that won’t be an issue.