Some fans, and analysts, like to make much out of preseason. But at the end of the day, a preseason game is a glorified scrimmage. The preseason games can show us how positional battles and roster spots are shaking out, a team’s overall offensive and defensive philosophies, and how prepared the starters look for the beginning of the season.
But the preseason can’t tell us how good, or how bad, a team is. Sometimes fans like to read too much into how a team looks in the preseason, but such an endeavor is fruitless.
In Marvin Lewis' 12 seasons as the Bengals’ head coach, he has compiled a 27-25 record in the preseason, and a 100-90-2 record in the regular season. During his tenure, the Bengals have had preseasons where the won most of their games, and preseasons where they lost most of their games. But regardless of how they did in the preseason, their regular season results were mostly not at all connected to those of the preseason.
In Marvin Lewis' tenure with the Bengals, only once has a losing record in the preseason been followed by a losing record in the regular season. That was 2007, when the Bengals went 1-3 in the preseason, and 7-9 in the regular season.
Only once has a winning record in the preseason been followed by a winning record in the regular season. That was in 2013, when the Bengals went 3-1 in the preseason, and 11-5 in the regular season.
For what it’s worth, only once did a losing record in the preseason get followed by a winning record in the regular season (2011 the Bengals went 1-3, and 9-7). And only once did a winning record in the preseason precede a losing record in the regular season (2010 the Bengals went 3-2, but then 4-12).
And, exactly once, the Bengals finished with a 0.500 record in the preseason, and a 0.500 record in the regular season. That was back in 2004 when the Bengals went 2-2 in the preseason, and 8-8 in the regular season.
Going into Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Indianapolis Colts, the Bengals are sitting at 2-1 in the preseason. A loss would even their record at 2-2, while a victory would boost their record to 3-1. And we can safely assert that regardless of the final score of the Benagls' game this Thursday, it will have no bearing on their regular season results.
So if the Bengals win, don't write them into the Super Bowl just yet. And if the Bengals lose, don't begrudge the season just yet. We still have 16 real games to play, and only those will indicate what type of season 2015 is for the Bengals as well as what their postseason may or may not look like.