The 2016 incarnation of the Cincinnati Bengals is extremely lucky to be in a division as bad as the 2016 incarnation of the AFC North. But after dropping six games and tying one through the first 10 games of the season, the Bengals are, quite frankly, not a team that deserves to be in the playoff discussion after the long list of debacles we’ve seen from them this season. And, at this point, we shouldn’t believe they have any chance of making the playoffs, even if it’s mathematically possible.
But, the sheer fact that the Bengals are in the 2016 AFC North is reason enough to keep paying close attention else, because the schedule remains interesting from here. The division leading Baltimore Ravens just lost yet another game this Sunday to the Dallas Cowboys, which means the Bengals are only a game and a half behind with two head-to-head games left on their schedule.
The Bengals will still need a bit of help from the Steelers’ remaining opponents, as the Steelers are also a game and a half ahead of the Bengals and already have a head-to-head win. But, it is hard to see the Steelers winning out on the season after just recently coming off a four game losing streak. Still, the general feeling around the Bengals lately, as explained by Katherine Terrell of ESPN, is the Bengals just don’t have it in them to win their division, even this cupcake version of the AFC North.
Maybe it's just not their year. The Bengals' best hope to reach the playoffs is to win the AFC North.
That seems like a long shot at this point.
For a team that's used to going to the postseason, the Bengals (3-6-1) just don't look like a playoff team this year.
The Bengals started this season by repeating that they're not last year's team, but that was meant to suggest they would be more disciplined than the 2015 Bengals. But the truth is, they're not as good as last year's team.
Believing in the Bengals’ ability to accomplish anything of significance as they sit at 3-6-1 after 10 games seems foolish, and it’s too bad the team couldn’t capitalize on this weakened division.
With Ravens loss and Steelers win, 3-6-1 #Bengals unbelievably remain 1.5 games out in AFC North. Still 4 division games left. @FOX19— Jeremy Rauch (@FOX19Jeremy) November 20, 2016
Trying to remain optimistic about the Bengals at this point just feels like a chore. The team have had multiple opportunities to instill confidence by winning in important games, but the wins have never materialized. Even if they do somehow manage to turn things around and make the playoffs, it would be really tough. That is partly due to the poor level of play that we have witnessed all season. But, as explained by Anthony Broome of CBS Sports, that also is because of the insane number of key injuries the Bengals suffered in this game.
The Cincinnati Bengals have had a miserable afternoon against the Buffalo Bills and it continues to get worse.
A.J. Green was carted off the field earlier in the contest and now the cart has come out for long snapper Clark Harris late in the fourth quarter with a groin injury and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick has been ruled out with a left knee problem.
Vincent Rey also came out of the game for a few plays with a thigh injury but is expected to return in the contest.
In addition to those injuries, Giovani Bernard tore his left ACL on the final drive and will not return for the rest of the season. A.J. Green’s injury has been reported as a torn hamstring, so the Bengals might not be getting him back either. Shawn Williams also left the game with a hamstring injury and did not return, although it does not sound like his injury was as serious as Green’s. And Dre Kirkpatrick also left with a currently undetermined injury. If the Bengals do, somehow, make it to the playoffs, it’s hard to see them making any noise with so many injury problems and a lack of weapons.
Adam Jones on AJ Green injury "He's the best receiver in the league. He goes down, how do you think it's going to affect the team?" #Bengals— Kaci Kust (@KaciKustCN2) November 20, 2016
One more reason why remaining optimistic about the Bengals is going to be tough through the rest of this season is the fact that kicker Mike Nugent has been notably awful. This week, in particular, he missed back-to-back extra point attempts. Even though you can’t blame the Bengals’ loss on Nugent’s misses alone, they were, as explained by the Associated Press and Yahoo Sports, a massive hurdle for the Bengals to overcome and have become a reoccurring issue.
When they scored touchdowns in the first half, Nugent hit the upright on his two extra-point attempts, his kicks thrown off as he compensated for the wind. Nugent also missed an extra point and a field goal during a 27-27 tie with Washington on Oct. 30 in London.
''It just drives me crazy to have a poor performance that contributes to a loss,'' Nugent said. ''That's the second time that's happened this year, that I've contributed enormously to a loss. If I did what I was brought here to do, we'd have two less losses, in my opinion.''
It drives us crazy too, Mike. Yes, it is absolutely true that Nugent’s struggles weren’t the only reason the Bengals lost. But, the misses were certainly a huge part of it as the Bengals only lost by four points and put together a serviceable drive at the end of the game. Had Nugent made both of his extra point attempts, the Bengals would have been in position to win the game at the end with a field goal, rather than being forced to go for another miracle touchdown pass with Green in the locker room and Bernard on the sidelines.
For that matter, if he had even hit one of his extra point attempts, a field goal would have given the Bengals new life and sent the game to overtime. In both cases, it would have required Nugent to actually hit the game winning/tying field goal. But, if he can’t be trusted to pull off any of theses scenarios, free agent kickers are available who are hungry for their next shot in the NFL. Just like Chad Johnson...
I'm available & enjoy pressure situations... pic.twitter.com/BhdXCpnWw9— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) November 20, 2016
Ultimately, the fact of the matter is the Bengals aren’t going to make any significant changes to the roster (or coaching staff for that matter) in the middle of the season. That information is, obviously, to the dismay of many Bengals fans. But, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise if you have been following this team for a while. Still, if there was any game that justified wholesale changes taking place throughout the Bengals’ organization, this game would seem to be it.
The Twitterverse had more than a few things to say about the Bengals’ debacle at home against Buffalo, very little of which was encouraging.
Wow. Did not see this coming to Cincinnati this year. Stunning. Shocking.— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) November 20, 2016
Bengals RB Gio Bernard tore his ACL today against the Bills. He suffered a torn ACL in 2010 to his right knee.— ACL Recovery Club (@ACLrecoveryCLUB) November 21, 2016
NFL ACL count = 42 pic.twitter.com/5gvJKNyzss
The #Bengals released Brandon Tate in late August. Tate responded today with 99 yards on KR/PR and 48 yards receiving. #Bills— Ryan Talbot (@RyanTalbotBills) November 21, 2016
#Bengals Andy Dalton pass yards in 3 games vs. #Bills: 878#Bills Tyrod Taylor's 3 highest pass yards vs. anyone in career combined: 877— Nick Wojton (@Nick_Wojton) November 18, 2016