It is a miracle that Marvin Lewis still has a job. Well actually no it’s not the Bengals have always been intensely loyal to their GM’s and coaches. That’s the Brown family style of management, yet the city of Cincinnati is still intensely loyal to there beloved Bengals, the question is will they win that elusive playoff game but the bigger question remains can this roster make the playoffs?
Andy Dalton has seen better days. The QB is coming off two of the worst seasons of his career. Dalton relies so heavily on surrounding talent to step up and in the last few years they just haven’t. That needs to change this year if the Bengals want any shot at the playoffs. Andy Dalton isn’t going to become an elite QB overnight.
The Bengals wide receiving core is AJ Green and then almost entirely forgettable. I had some optimism about this group before this article but digging into the roster in preparation revealed to me outside AJ Green not much else is found. Brandon LaFell lacks consistency and struggles with injury. Tyler Eifert will reportedly miss most of training camp and perhaps a few weeks of the regular season with an unnamed injury. It looks less and less likely that we will ever see a full Eifert season which is a shame because at his peak he is one of the best pass catching tight ends in the leauge and one of Dalton’s favorite targets. John Ross was entirely forgettable his rookie season and will need to hope for a renaissance if he’s to make any progress. Josh Malone only saw 17 targets last year and Dalton doesn’t trust him. The Bengals receiving core holds one of the best pass catchers in the leauge and not much else.
Joe Mixon is about to have a breakout season. The offensive line is much better adding Cordy Glenn to the fray to fill a major need at left tackle and the Bengals drafted well taking guys like Billy Price in the first round. The line stands to be much better which bodes well for Dalton and the running backs on this team. At the end of last year Mixon was hitting his stride I expect him to continue that and make himself a name all football fans know by the end of 2018.
The Bengals defensive line is full aging veterans but still good. Geno Atkins in his eighth year and Carlos Dunlap in his ninth should be expected to lose a step but still make for a terrifying duo to run against. The linebacking core has young potential in Nick Vigil and Malik Jefferson but Vontez Burfict is still suspension prone. He will again open up this year on suspension because of PED’s. When he stays out of trouble though he is one of the best linebackers in the leauge. The secondary is for the first time in a while this defenses real strength. William Jackson had a break out year at corner last year and Dre Kirpatrick had one of the best years of his career. George Iloka has always been overlooked but is a great safety. This defense can force turnovers which will be necessary if they hope to win any games this year.
The Bengals seem doomed to out of playoff purgatory if you look purely at the roster on offense. However, if the defense can preform and Dalton can have a good year a bounce back may be in order in 2018.
Record Prediction: 8-8