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Early projections peg Bengals as a 3-win team in 2019

ESPN’s early projections are in, and they’re not favorable for Cincinnati.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Press Conference David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Early ESPN score projections aren’t very fond of the Zac Taylor-led Bengals.

However, this was to be expected. A new head coach without much experience is inheriting a core of players entering their 30s along with a defense that has had trouble staying healthy in recent years. The youth on the roster is promising, but largely unproven as well.

ESPN’s Mike Clay projected the scores of all 256 games for the 2019 season. The Bengals ended up with half their win total from 2018.

Cincinnati is projected to win in Week 2, Week 13 and Week 16. Clay also predicts the Bengals will tie a game, their Week 5 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals.

Surprisingly, ESPN’s algorithm also doesn’t give Cincinnati a single AFC North win, losing all six of their games. 2002 was the only season the Bengals failed to win a divisional game since the AFC Central was split into the North and South.

The most shocking of these 13 losses is the Week 3 loss in Buffalo against the Bills. If the Bengals stumble in that game, it might be an early indicator that this is going to be a rough season.

The Cincinnati Bengals will be going into the 2019 season with holes still to fill. They still need to strengthen their linebacking core in order to solidify their defense. One of the NFL’s worst defenses in 2018, Cincinnati finally got into a rhythm when Marvin Lewis took over as the defensive play caller last season. There is potential on the defensive side of the ball.

Offensively, behind a healthy A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, one of the breakout stars in 2018, Cincinnati should be able to put points on the board. Their running game should thrive with Joe Mixon in the backfield and first-round pick Jonah Williams leading the line.

Needless to say, this team should figure out a way to win more than three games. They’ll grossly underplay their potential if they’re not at least a five-win team in 2019.