There’s optimism surrounding the Cincinnati Bengals this year but the fact of the matter is that they’re in a brutal division and that’s six really tough games right there. Throw in that they also have to play the Chiefs and Packers (which could end up being less daunting if Aaron Rodgers isn’t their quarterback) and it’s one of the NFL’s toughest schedules.
As a result, it doesn’t come as a shock that Brandon Little of Sports Illustrated has Cincinnati winning just six games and finishing last in the AFC North once again.
"The Bengals should be very competitive this year and may pick up a surprise win or two. They are improved across the board, but still have some glaring holes to fix. Joe Burrow stays healthy and leads his team to six wins, about as expected."
While Little seems to think six wins is an accomplishment for the Bengals, this would likely be the nail in the coffin for Zac Taylor as the head coach of the team. That’d give him just 12 wins in three seasons and if things were going badly enough at the halfway mark, there’s a chance that Taylor would get canned sooner.
Six wins would be a disappointment for the Bengals.
Little has the Bengals’ six wins coming against the Bears, Jaguars, Lions, Jets, Steelers, and Broncos, which is believable. They beat Pittsburgh once last year with Brandon Allen as the starter so the team knows they can do it now when the odds are stacked against them. I also wouldn’t be shocked to see Cincinnati pull off the upset against the Browns once this year considering how close both matchups were last year.
Something interesting with how Little sees the season shaking out is that at the bye week, which for the Bengals comes in Week 10, the team is sitting with a record of 4-5. This would already match their win total from the 2020 season and fans would probably be pretty pleased if that was how the first nine games went.
That being said, from there, Cincinnati goes just 2-6 to close out the year and that would seal the deal as far as Taylor’s time with the Bengals goes. It’d be unfortunate if they started off so promising and then fizzled out in the final stretch but the back half of their schedule isn’t going to be a walk in the park, so it could absolutely play out this way.
Hopefully, the Bengals can surprise some people this year and win more than just six games. It’d take around eight wins to truly save Taylor’s job unless the improvement with the team is clear as day. Otherwise, the team will be forced to dip back into the head coaching pool once again.
Do you think six wins is the likely outcome for this team?