This has become more of a collection of how mean the national media is going to be to the Bengals each week.
This week, Cincinnati matched their worst start in franchise history, got officially eliminated from the playoffs and had their rookie quarterback have a complete dud of an outing against a good matchup.
So no, they didn’t climb any rankings this week.
The Bengals will need a win to escape the bottom of the Power Rankings. After Sunday’s 17-10 loss to the Raiders, Cincinnati has just six chances left to avoid becoming the third team in NFL history to go 0-16. The setback in Oakland is especially frustrating because the defense -- ranked dead last in the NFL entering Week 11 -- delivered its best performance of the year. The 17 points were the fewest scored by a Bengals opponent this season, but it was still too high a number for an offense that has not improved a lick since Ryan Finley replaced Andy Dalton two weeks ago. The continued absence of A.J. Green (it already feels like we’ve seen the last of Green, who is in the last year of his current contract, in a Bengals uniform) is a major detriment, but the whole unit needs an overhaul in the offseason. The Bengals’ to-do list will be mighty come Jan. 1.
Hopkins won the starting job in the preseason, and he has been one of the few Bengals who has consistently played well this season. Hopkins has won 93.3% of his pass blocks (ESPN metric powered by NFL Next Gen). That’s good for 15th among all centers. Hopkins is on an offensive line that has struggled all season, but he has been one of the bright spots for Cincinnati. -- Ben Baby
They are the worst team in the league and they might not win a game. Do they go back to Andy Dalton at some point?
The Bengals might have won on Sunday with Andy Dalton at quarterback. Maybe it matters to get one win and avoid 0-16, maybe it doesn’t. But making the switch to rookie quarterback Ryan Finley so early put the Bengals in much more danger of that 0-16 infamy.
Thanks to their loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday—coupled with other results around the league—they are the first team to be eliminated from postseason consideration. The fact that it happened in Week 11 is bad. That they are searching for win No. 1 with six games to play is worse. If you’re into moral victories, the Bengals at least gave the Raiders a run for their money. But at this point, it’s fair to question whether they’ll go winless this season, though the schedule’s not especially daunting. They only play one more team that has a record above .500—and four of their last six contests are at home. It’s also fair to wonder whether a win would be a blessing or a curse. If the Bengals become the third team in NFL history to go 0-16, the No. 1 pick in 2020 is theirs. But the Washington Redskins lurk just in front of them at 1-9.
The Bengals are still winless, so there is no disputing that they have earned their last place rank. We can discuss some things about the rest of the rest of the season that the rankers have questions about.
First, it is pretty clear that the move to start Ryan Finley wasn’t made thinking that he was better than Dalton. It seems like the Bengals knew they had to find out what they had in Finley, because if he has no promise of possibly being a franchise quarterback, their decision at the top of the draft has to be a quarterback to bring in the Zac Taylor era proper. That means we shouldn’t expect to see Finley benched for Dalton going forward.
As far as wins being more problematic than losses for the Bengals, they are absolutely in a battle with Washington (1-9) for that first overall pick. The injury to Tua Tagovailoa also makes it more important to end up with that first overall pick, so the Bengals can draft Joe Burrow.
What no one likes to talk about is the lingering pain an 0-16 season can have on a franchise. Ask the Lions and Browns how they’ve been doing since those seasons. That isn’t just something a team gets over, and it really does mark you as a franchise that players either want to get out of or avoid if at all possible.
You can also make the argument that if Washington ends up with the first overall pick that they won’t want to pass on defensive end Chase Young since they drafted Dwayne Haskins last year in the first round. They could even potentially pass on whatever offer the Dolphins make to try and acquire the picks. Of course no one knows how that would really play out.
Basically no one wants this team to go on a six game run of winning, but an 0-16 season is pretty extreme, even if the prize may be worth it.