It is no secret that the Bengals aren’t viewed favorably on a national level as they go into the season. No one was impressed as the time signed up for another two seasons of Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton.
This has led to the oddsmakers giving them the same respect, according to Rob Nelson of ESPN:
O/U wins: 7
Super Bowl: 80-1
Expectations are low for the Bengals, who are 10-1 to win the division and have the same conference and Super Bowl odds as the Browns. This would be only the second time in 16 seasons under Marvin Lewis that Cincinnati is 10-1 or worse to win the AFC North (20-1 in 2011). The Bengals have hit the over in four of the five seasons that they entered with a win total below eight under Lewis.
Those numbers aren’t great. Only eight teams have a lower over/under for their win total than the Bengals, and as Nelson says, they have the same odds as the Browns to win the AFC and the Super Bowl, which is pretty much as bad as it gets. The only teams to have worse Super Bowl odds is Arizona and Washington.
The only good news to this is the Bengals usually perform best when no one expects anything from them. That 2011 season Nelson refers to as the last time the Bengals were viewed as such long shots to win the division was the start of the Dalton and A.J. Green era that kicked off five-straight playoff appearances.
That was also the last time the Bengals were viewed as one of the worst teams in the NFL.
What else comes when you aren’t viewed as one of the better teams?
A lack of primetime games. The only primetime game on the Bengals schedule is their Thursday Night game in Week 2 against the Ravens. For those who haven’t paid close attention to Cincinnati’s primetime struggles, the team is 2-5 on Monday Night games and 0-6 in Sunday night games since Dalton took over in 2011.
This means the Bengals won’t have to change that trend, but who wants to see if they can after two terrible seasons? This gives the Bengals to thrive away from the national spotlight, which is where they do best. Of course, they could always get flexed into a more viewed slot of the schedule if they do perform.
It seems Lewis has a way of getting his team to perform better when his team doesn’t have those expectations thrust upon them by the national media. The 2018 season has all the makings of a no pressure season. It also looks like a good time to put a few bucks down on the over for win totals given the Bengals past.