6 things the Bengals must do to sneak into the playoffs in 2020

Cincinnati Bengals, Joe Mixon (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals, Joe Mixon (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals, Carlos Dunlap (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Make sure the defensive line lives up to its potential

After four pages of talking about the offense, it’s time to discuss the defense. The Lou Anarumo coached unit is expected by many to be the Bengals’ biggest strength in 2020 and they have the potential to be one of the best defenses in the entire league. For that to happen, their talent on the defensive line has to translate into dominance on the field.

With franchise sack leaders Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, the Bengals have two bonafide stars on the line, and the talent doesn’t stop there. Defensive ends Sam Hubbard and Carl Lawson are both young and highly talented players who will only get better as they gain more experience.

In addition to all these players, Cincinnati shocked everyone in free agency and signed Houston nose tackle D.J. Reader to a lucrative contract. Altogether, these players combine to make what should be a terrifying unit for offensive lines to face.

A dominant defensive line would do a lot for the Bengals’ defense. Newly signed nose tackle Reader could help contribute to a defense that stops the run against the many strong running games in the AFC North. Their elite group of lineman could help bail out an unproven group of linebackers. A strong pass rush could pressure quarterbacks into poor decision making, leading to more turnovers. Their impact will not only bring in sacks but help every other part of the defense.

Many teams in recent years have been carried to the playoffs by their strong defenses. The 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars, the 2018 Chicago Bears, and the 2019 Buffalo Bills being a few recent examples. If Joe Burrow doesn’t live up to his potential in his rookie year, the defense will need to be strong enough to win games. The dominant defensive line should be the key factor to having a defense that wins games.