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ESPN takes the under on Bengals’ win total for 2019

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Going into the draft, ESPN still doesn’t have much faith in Cincinnati. Will they be able to prove them wrong?

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

The Bengals’ 2019 schedule is out, and the NFL draft isn’t far away. That makes this the perfect time for many outlets to check back in on how they currently feel about these teams before they start using draft picks.

Mike Clay of ESPN went back and re-examined the over/unders set for each team’s win total, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that it wasn’t favorable to the Bengals.

The Bengals over/under is set at six wins, and Clay projects the team to have 5.5.

The Bengals were outscored by 87 points, and their defense allowed an NFL-worst 6,618 yards last season. Their notable offseason additions? B.W. Webb, John Miller and Kerry Wynn. That’s not going to cut it. Andy Dalton completed only 62 percent of his passes (ninth-worst) and averaged 7.0 yards per attempt (10th-worst) last season. Cincinnati failed to improve a weak roster but could benefit from a coaching change and the league’s seventh-easiest schedule.

When you consider that free agency is likely what influenced most of Clay’s decisions, it isn’t surprising that he didn’t view the Bengals favorably. Cincinnati made more moves earlier than we were use to, but it still was far from flashy. They added Miller who will start at right guard and be a huge improvement over Alex Redmond, but other than that they really added rotational players and kept their own free agents.

Clay mentions that the Bengals’ roster is weak, which aside from some glaring holes at linebacker and offensive tackle I’d whole heartily disagree with. It is obvious that Cincinnati is banking on Zac Taylor being able to come in and do something with this set of players that Marvin Lewis’ staff was unable to. It honestly isn’t out of the realm of possibilities that Taylor’s new offensive system could be the jolt of life this team needs to start contending for the playoffs again.

However, it doesn’t change the fact that to an outsider looking in that this is still basically the same roster that has failed to make the playoffs the past three seasons. This feeling could easily shift if the Bengals grab a couple of instant impact players on the first few days of the draft, but based on the roster now, how much has really changed?

It is pretty easy though to see even just giving the Bengals a modern looking offense could do wonders for them. It still comes down to can Andy Dalton get back to his 2015 form? We will have to see how well he does in Taylor’s system, and how well the rest of the offense is utilized.

It is frustrating seeing the Bengals viewed so poorly by the national media, but these kinds of rankings are usually based on how flashy a team was during free agency. That is something the Bengals will never win awards for.

Still, if Cincinnati wants to make their way back to the playoffs, they need to ht a few home runs in the upcoming draft. Ultimately though, winning is the only way to change the perception of this team.

The reality is at this moment, this is roughly the same roster that has failed to make it to the playoffs or even achieve a winning record for three straight seasons.