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Philosophical Question: Tank the season or fight to win?

If the season were to end today, the Bengals would draft No. 11 overall. However, there’s actually three games remaining. Do you want the Bengals to tank the season or fight to win?

Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

This is one of those postings that may only interest me — AKA, I’m thinking about something and I answer it via a Chop Block post. There’s very little insight, story structure, or analysis here; just answering random musings from the couch during a stormy Cincinnati afternoon. There might not even be a conclusion; I’ll just stop when I’m finished.

Now that the Cincinnati are 5-8, with improbable postseason odds (unless you’re an cosmic idiot like this guy), the philosophical question of the moment becomes: Should the Bengals tank the season to get a better draft position?

If the season were to end today, Cincinnati would select No. 11 overall during the 2019 NFL draft. The Bengals host the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, head to Cleveland next week, and close the season at Pittsburgh. If the Bengals lose all three, their chances for a can’t-miss prospect raises significantly. If the Bengals win, they could fall to the mid-round where you’re still able to get a quality starter. Frankly, the Bengals need to hit a homerun in April’s draft.

Tank the season... get better talent.

It’s easy to see the logic. Cincinnati could use better talent — either on the offensive line, linebacker, and depending on how free agency goes, cornerback. Not only are you aiming for a higher slot in the first round, you’re also receiving higher selections in each successive round.

Naturally, tanking the season isn’t an option for many.

Players have professional pride — they want to win, regardless of their performances since that devastating defeat against Kansas City. Coaches too. Ownership doesn’t want to look foolish — contrary to popular belief. Unless you actually believe Dr. Evil is sitting in his lair coming up with fantastic ways to lose games.

In addition. Cincinnati’s first-round selections haven’t necessarily been strong: Of the 17 first-round picks during the Marvin Lewis era, only five have made the Pro Bowl (none since Tyler Eifert in 2013) and none have been named to the first-team All-Pro team. You could argue that over half (9) were selections 20th or later — slots where you’ll find good starters but not necessarily homerun-hitting prospects. Since 2003, Carson Palmer (1st overall), Keith Rivers (9), Andre Smith (6), A.J. Green (4) and John Ross (9) were selected in the top-ten. Palmer and Green are the only players to earn league honors.

The logic is there.

Players and coaches have too much pride to let it happen — and the Bengals aren’t necessarily strong with first-round selections anyway (for every William Jackson, there’s a Cedric Ogbuehi).

The question remains: Fight to win or tank the season?