It’s not the last game of the year, but it feels like the Cincinnati Bengals’ 2019 season has come down to this game.
Through the first eight weeks, the only two winless teams left were the Bengals and the Miami Dolphins, and suddenly, this seemingly inconsequential Week 16 game became circled on all the calendars of all NFL Draft fiends.
First, it was coined as the “Tua Bowl” before Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa injured his hip in mid-November and taking him out for the season. Now, it may as well be called the “Burrow Bowl” after LSU quarterback Joe Burrow took Tagovailoa’s throne as the draft’s top quarterback prospect and the Hesiman Trophy in one full swoop.
By the time April 23rd comes around, Burrow will be the first pick in the draft, which will belong to one of these teams. This game will all but decide which team that will be.
Here are the scenarios:
- The Bengals clinch the first-overall pick with a loss to the Dolphins
- The Bengals clinch the first-overall pick with a tie to the Dolphins.
- The Bengals will retain a one-game lead over the Dolphins and the loser of the Giants-Redskins game, or just the Giants if the Giants tie the Redskins.
So yes, the Bengals can still win this game and keep the tank alive, but with the impotent Browns next on their schedule and the Dolphins set to play the Patriots in Week 17, things could get hairy for the #BleauxForBurrow crowd.
Zac Taylor, who’s first NFL job was as an assistant quarterbacks coach for the Dolphins back in 2012, has no intention to lose this game for the betterment of the future. This is the first time he returns to Miami as an NFL coach, as will offensive line coach Jim Turner, who was fired from the team in 2014 following the Bullygate scandal. The Bengals’ locker room still wants to win, and they’ll have a great shot at doing so this week.
The Dolphins have the NFL’s worst defense and sixth-worst offense according to Football Outsiders’ weighted DVOA metric and are fresh off of two-straight losses in Metlife Stadium to the New York Jets and Giants. While they’ve surprised the NFL world a few times this season with wins over the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles, they’re capable of playing some really bad football.
After 13 losses in 15 weeks, it would be nice for the losing to mean something. The Bengals have been stuck in purgatory for some time now and their only way out may be in the form of having the first-overall pick in a draft with a legitimate franchise quarterback set to lead the class. This game could go down as the contest that determines their fate, good or bad.
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