Bengals need to prove they can win close games under Zac Taylor

Carl Lawson, Sam Hubbard
Carl Lawson, Sam Hubbard /

The Bengals need to improve an 0-10-1 record in one-score games in a season and a half under head coach Zac Taylor.

In 24 games played under Zac Taylor, the Bengals have a 1-10-1 record in one-score games. In the other 13 games, Cincinnati is 4-9. Learning how to win close games is a learning process for any young team. Eight of those 10 losses came in 2019. The Bengals were 0-8 in one-score games in 2019.

In one-score games in 2020, Cincinnati is 1-2-1. The four victories under Taylor have come by an average of 11.25 points per game. In their 14 losses in 2019, the Bengals were outscored by an average of 9.79 PPG. Their eight losses in 2020 have been by an average of 7.8 PPG.

The majority of games in the NFL are close. With a winning percentage of 44 percent in close games compared to an abysmal winning percentage of nine percent in one-score games the last season and a half, the Bengals are an NFL aberration.

The biggest key to winning close games is having an elite quarterback. Joe Burrow will instill confidence throughout the entire team with the ability to bring a team back late in the game to win. Having a defense with the ability to stop opponents from coming back late in a game is the next step.

Cincinnati ranks 17th in the NFL averaging 7.1 PPG in the fourth quarter after finishing 20th in 2019 averaging 5.6 PPG in the fourth quarter. This season, the Bengals are 30th in the NFL allowing 10.8 PPG in the fourth quarter for a deficit of 3.7 PPG.

The Bengals were actually 12th in the NFL in 2019 allowing 5.7 PPG for a margin of just 0.1 PPG. With a 2-14 record in 2019, Cincinnati’s fourth-quarter defense was misleading. Eight of the Bengals 16 games in 2019 were more than one score games. Opponents were more concerned about running out the clock than scoring.

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Tightening up the defense and Taylor making up the right calls will be critical to the future with the Bengals winning close games. It is often said in sports that certain coaches or players were not able to win big games. Before winning big games, teams need to learn how to win games in the fourth quarter.