With the home opener against the Chargers right around the corner, our writers predict the regular-season record for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Dylan Streibig- 6-10
With last year’s college football phenom Joe Burrow in the fold, optimism is sky-high in Cincinnati. While the journey from 2-14 to the playoffs being just one year long is not impossible, it isn’t realistic. Burrow does have some weapons to help him along. However, with the exception of running back Joe Mixon, this offense is relying largely on rookies and injury-prone veterans. There was no way to avoid this for the Bengals, but it is risky.
The defense should be improved after a free-agency spending spree. This, along with the good spells we will see from an offense that includes guys like Burrow, Mixon, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and others will result in Cincinnati tripling its win total from last year. It is not the result fans want. Still, if that happens and Burrow gets up every time shaky offensive line play causes him to go down, it will be a huge step in the right direction for the franchise.
Alex Austin- 8-8
Expectations for the Bengals are all over the place this season. Some say that they are a contender at the back end of the AFC playoff picture. Others say they will be at the bottom of the AFC North again. The Bengals have made some huge changes and additions this year that will help, but there are still some big holes.
The capability of the quarterback and wide receiver group led by Joe Burrow has a lot of people excited and for good reason. Add in newly paid Joe Mixon and this offense could be one of the best in football. The only thing holding them back could be shaky play from the offensive line.
On defense, there are a lot of new faces, mostly via free agency. But are they any better than the players that left? There is a lot of potential for this team, but there are still some things that need to be worked out. 8-8 would be a welcome start to the Burrow era. However, don’t be surprised if the Bengals perform beyond expectations.
Larry Spicer- 6-10
This is going to be an interesting season for the Cincinnati Bengals. It is a year that can go in many different directions. Joe Burrow is a rookie and although highly touted, could be in for many ups and downs throughout his first campaign.
The most important thing for the 2020 Bengals is not necessarily wins and losses, but rather how the team improves throughout the season. This club is absolutely heading in the right direction, but they are starting at the very bottom. So, don’t get caught up too much in the record if this turns out to be another sub-500 season. As long as the team shows steady growth, this season will be a success.
Aaron Burd- 6-10
With players like A.J. Green and Jonah Williams returning from injury and the addition of solid free agents, Joe Burrow, and other talented rookies, the Bengals are no longer a bad team on paper. However, with a rookie quarterback and an iffy offensive line, it will probably take Cincinnati another year to develop into a legit contender.
If everything goes perfectly for the Bengals, they could push for the 7th seed in the AFC playoffs. However, the more likely outcome is that they will deal with injuries, bad offensive line play, and Burrow will have struggles as he develops to the pros.
Despite this, their improvements and new additions will be at least enough to make them an exciting team that gives their opponents headaches. It is not unreasonable to expect the Bengals to get to six wins.
Hunter Bittinger- 8-8
It’s difficult not to tack on an additional win for the Bengals here to make it 9-7 and have them sneaking into the playoffs. With the way that Joe Burrow has earned the respect of all of his teammates so quickly, it really feels like the team is going to rally behind him. It seems like every day a new member of the squad is gushing over the rookie signal-caller, causing the football world to do the same.
No matter how much hype builds around the reigning Heisman though, there are just too many unknowns to predict a winning season at this point. The offensive line should improve but the outlook still isn’t great for the unit. The secondary looks thin and one more injury could spell disaster. The coaching staff is still unproven.
The safe bet is that this will be a campaign for development and evaluation. The front office will have the opportunity to see what pieces work around Burrow and what they need to do next offseason.