The 2018 season started off really well for the Cincinnati Bengals. The team opened up with a record of 4-1, knocking off the division rival Baltimore Ravens with a 34-23 win along the way. It was looking like the team would be a factor in the AFC North race throughout the season.
Then the bottom fell out in big league fashion. The team’s defense started the year off with glimmers of hope but would evolve into one of the poorest units in the league. The offense couldn’t do enough to make up the difference. That was especially true when Andy Dalton was lost for the year with a thumb injury.
The Bengals would win just two more games the rest of the way to close out the year at 6-10. Unsurprisingly, that led to changes in the offseason. Marvin Lewis was shown the door after 16 years of roaming the sideline in Cincinnati.
The team would move on and hire Zac Taylor, as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Rams whose star has been rising in coaching circles. Expectations are tempered for his first year at the helm, but the franchise is naturally optimistic that he’s the long-term answer.
So what does that mean for the Bengals in 2019? We’re going to dig in and take a look. First, let’s take a look back at the season that was for the Bengals in 2018.
Cincinnati Bengals 2018 Season Recap
Record: 6-10 | Standings: 4-AFC Central | Playoffs: N/A
The Bengals opened up the year with a pair of solid wins. A 34-23 road victory over the Indianapolis Colts was followed by an 11-point home win over the Ravens. Both of those squads would go on to be playoff teams when all was said and done.
A 10-point road loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 3 would follow, but the Bengals bounced back for two wins to bring the record to 4-2. Over the final three games before a Week 9 bye, the team would go 1-2. At 5-3, the club was still in the hunt.
Then it wasn’t. Out of the bye, the Bengals would lose five straight games. The New Orleans Saints got the ball rolling with a 51-14 road victory, while the Los Angeles Chargers would close out the stretch with a five-point win at home.
Dalton would go down to injury over this span, and the play of the defense would continue to decline. The bleeding was stopped with a 30-16 home win over the Oakland Raiders, but Cincinnati would go on to lose its final two games, both on the road to divisional foes.
The season would come to an end with a record of 6-10. Lewis was given the axe on New Year’s Eve, while the club would officially announce the hiring of Taylor after the Super Bowl. In a statement, Bengals owner Mike Brown sang the praises of the Rams assistant.
“Zac is a bright coach with an offensive mind and background, which is important to have in today’s NFL. And he’s young,” Brown said. “He embraces new ideas and new ways to do things, which will be a good thing for us. I believe our team will be exciting and fun to watch with him at the helm.”
Cincinnati Bengals Offseason Moves
For free agency, the Bengals resigned a number of their own players, including Darqueze Dennard, Preston Brown, and Tyler Eifert. Vontaze Burfict and Michael Johnson are among the departures. The team did do a little shopping as well.
They’ve added Kerry Wynn and B.J. Webb to a defense which can use all the help it can get. The offensive line would also be bolstered with the signing of John Miller. Their focus would stay on the line for the first round of the draft.
Ar #11, the Bengals selected Jonah Williams, a highly-regarded offensive tackle out of Alabama. In round two, the team grabbed Washington TE Drew Sample. While Sample looks like a fine prospect, it seems like a curious selection after the team re-signed both Eifert and C.J. Uzomah.
Other notable selections include NC State LB Germaine Pratt in round three, and NC State QB Ryan Finley the following round. The Bengals did not make any major splashes in either the draft or free agency, but the team did take steps to shore up some holes.
Taylor is the biggest piece of the puzzle added in the offseason. While he’s viewed in league circles as a bright offensive mind, the jury will remain out until we see what the product looks like on the field. Former New York Giants assistant Lou Anarumo is the new defensive coordinator who has his work cut out for him.
Dalton will remain behind center, and he will have some talent to work with. Joe Mixon leads the charge in the backfield, while he has a talented group of pass catchers to work with, led by A.J. Green. The offense could be interesting, but we’ll have to wait and see on the defense.
Cincinnati Bengals 2019 Schedule
|1||Sun. Sept.8||at Seattle Seahawks||4:05 PM||CBS|
|2||Sun. Sept.15||vs. San Francisco 49ers||1:00 PM||FOX|
|3||Sun. Sept.22||at Buffalo Bills||1:00 PM||CBS|
|4||Mon. Sept.30||at Pittsburgh Steelers||8:15 PM||ESPN|
|5||Sun. Oct.6||vs. Arizona Cardinals||1:00 PM||FOX|
|6||Sun. Oct.13||at Baltimore Ravens||1:00 PM||CBS|
|7||Sun. Oct.20||vs. Jacksonville Jaguars||1:00 PM||CBS|
|8||Sun. Oct.27||vs. Los Angeles Rams*||1:00 PM||CBS|
|10||Sun. Nov.10||vs. Baltimore Ravens||1:00 PM||CBS|
|11||Sun. Nov.17||at Oakland Raiders||4:25 PM||CBS|
|12||Sun. Nov.24||vs. Pittsburgh Steelers||1:00 PM||CBS|
|13||Thu. Dec.1||vs. New York Jets||1:00 PM||CBS|
|14||Sun. Dec.8||at Cleveland Browns||1:00 PM||CBS|
|15||Sun. Dec.15||vs. New England Patriots||1:00 PM||CBS|
|16||Sun. Dec.22||at Miami Dolphins||1:00 PM||CBS|
|17||Sun. Dec.29||vs. Cleveland Browns||1:00 PM||CBS|
*Game to be played at Wembley Stadium in London
Just like last year, the Bengals will have a bye in Week 9. Unfortunately for the club, the schedule may be even tougher this time around. It all starts with a tough road game versus the Seahawks in Week 1, and wraps up in Week 8 with a London game versus the Rams.
In between is a stretch of six games, five of which will come against teams that should arguably be in the playoff hunt this year. Cincinnati hit last year’s bye with five wins. It’s tough to make a case for the team turning that trick again.
It doesn’t get any easier after the week off. For the last eight weeks of the year, the Bengals will have seven games versus squads with playoff aspirations. The lone outlier is a Week 16 road date with a rebuilding Dolphins team.
Even if we assume the Raiders and Jets have false hopes of a playoff berth, that’s still five games versus teams that should at least be in striking distance of the playoffs. It shapes up as a challenging schedule for rookie head coach Taylor.
Cincinnati Bengals 2019 Outlook
The odds to win the AFC North released by the NFL betting sites showed the Bengals as the team with the longest shot of the bunch. That said, we don’t expect the club to roll over versus familiar foes. Two or three wins versus divisional rivals isn’t out of the question, while four would be an impressive accomplishment.
For the rest of the AFC schedule, the Bengals have some winnable games. However, that depends on how things out for teams which are expected to show improvement. Cincinnati will be home for the Jaguars, Jets, and Patriots.
They’ll hit the road to take on the Bills, Raiders, and Dolphins. Similar to the division, we can make a case for two or three wins, while four would be a best-case scenario. For interconference play, the Bengals will be matched up with the NFC West.
That translates into a road game with the Seahawks, home tilts with the 49ers and Cardinals, and a neutral-site affair with the Rams. One to two wins is doable, while three victories would be the club exceeding expectations.
Said another way, this is a club that could push .500, but it just as easily could struggle and check in with fewer wins than it had last year.
Cincinnati Bengals 2019 Win Total Odds and Pick
Here is where the oddsmakers have set the bar for the Bengals in 2019.
Total Regular Season Wins:
Betting odds provided by: MyBookie.ag
Two wins for each section of the schedule would make it a push. Can we realistically expect a Bengals team with a new coach to pull that off, especially with a defense that needs a ton of work?
We’re going to err on the side of caution. While we expect to see some signs of life out of the 2019 Bengals, we’re going with the Under for regular season wins.