After back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship Game, the Cincinnati Bengals won't be partaking in the playoffs this year. They finished the season at 9-8 despite at one point sitting at 5-3 and then later at 8-6 with their playoff chances looking likely at that point.
Sadly, it fell apart in the final month of the season. Let's take a look at the big reasons why Cincinnati will be watching the playoffs from home this year rather than participating.
Division and conference record
It's hard to make the playoffs when a team can't win games in their division or conference. The Bengals finished the 2023 season with one measly win in their division, which came in the final game of the season and against Browns backups and third-stringers.
Cincinnati didn't win their first conference game until Week 9 when they bested the Bills on Sunday Night Football. They ended with just four conference wins by the end of the season with those wins coming against the Bills, Jaguars, Colts, and Browns.
Conference wins are important when it comes to tiebreakers for the playoffs and that's ultimately what did the Bengals in. Division wins are also important and the Bengals were swept by two teams in the division. They had no way of getting into the postseason after they lost to the Chiefs because the Steelers also won, meaning there was no way Cincinnati could pass them in the standings.
Zac Taylor has struggled mightily in the division since becoming the Bengals head coach in 2019 and this is something he needs to improve in if this team wants to become a legitimate threat again.