The Bengals got a big win before the bye week, but they cannot afford to rest on their laurels. They need to continue to improve week in and week out and their improvement needs to start showing up in the win column.
There are multiple games in the next eight weeks where the Bengals are the better team, and because of that simple fact, they should win. That is the first step to getting where they want to be—beating bad teams.
The next step is beating good teams, and the Bengals will have a few shots at that as well. They need to win some games they aren’t expected to win and show they are a better team than people think.
Let’s take a look at their Week 10-17 matchups. Who should they beat, and what teams provided an opportunity for a meaningful win?
Week 10 at Pittsburgh Steelers
There are a few storylines that would make a Cincinnati win this week particularly compelling.
- The Steelers will enter Sunday still undefeated. The Bengals knocking off the league’s last undefeated team would certainly turn some heads.
- Zac Taylor has yet to win a game on the road as a head coach. Getting his first road-win in Pittsburgh would be outstanding.
- The Bengals have not beaten the Steelers since 2015. The Steelers have long been the class of the AFC North and the Bengals have struggled to beat them. Getting this win could set a new standard for the Taylor era in Cincinnati.
The Bengals went into their bye week riding the momentum of a big win over the Tennessee Titans. Following that with another impressive victory would help them ride that momentum into the second half of the season.
If they can win two in a row, they could keep that streak alive for a few more weeks. Needless to say. this would be a huge win.
Week 11 at Washington Football Team
Washington is not a very good team, but they do have a very good defensive line. That could make it hard for the Bengals to run the ball or protect Joe Burrow. However, this is a game they need to win.
It is another road game, so Taylor will either need to get his first road win here, or hopefully make it two in a row on the road.
Week 12 vs. New York Giants
Like Washington, the Giants are a two-win team who the Bengals need to beat.
There is really no excuse for not coming up with this win at home.
They are a better football team than the Giants.
Week 13 at Miami Dolphins
Last year’s matchup between these two teams game was supposed to be the “Tua Bowl.” For obvious reasons, it later became the “Burrow Bowl.”
Now it is the matchup of Tua Tagovailoa vs. Burrow and will once again be played in Miami.
The Dolphins may have played themselves out of the Burrow sweepstakes last year, but they spent the year learning how to win. After some quality additions this offseason they are playing very good football in 2020 and seem like a prime wild card candidate for this year’s expanded playoffs.
This would be a quality win for the Bengals if they can pull it off.
Week 14 vs. Dallas Cowboys
If there is one thing we don’t need to see this year, it’s an Andy Dalton revenge game. We all love the Red Rifle, but the Bengals need to beat the Cowboys.
The Cowboys were struggling even when Dak Prescott was healthy, but now they are in dire straights. This is a bad football team who the Bengals need to beat.
Week 15 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Round two. Fight!
To reiterate the point, the Bengals need to show that they can beat good teams. Beating the Steelers on Monday Night Football would make a strong statement about the state of things in Cincinnati.
In addition to a quality win, it would be a quality win on national television. Playing well on national television was a struggle for even the best of Marvin Lewis’s teams.
Prior to the Titans game, Taylor commented about how nice it was to be at home two weeks in a row, and they came up with the win.
Here, the Bengals would be home for the second week in a row. Can they do it again?
Week 16 at Houston Texans
Week 17 vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Bengals defense played really well in their first matchup with the Ravens, but unfortunately, the offense did not.
The Ravens defense threw a lot of things at Burrow that he had never seen before, but if there is one thing we know about him, it is that he learns quickly.
This will be a huge game for Burrow to showcase how far he has come over the course of his rookie season.
If the defense can compete like they did the last time around and Burrow can step up, they could get a massive win to finish the year.
Beat Bad Teams
The Bengals need to be done losing to bad teams. They cannot lose to the Giants, Cowboys, or Texans. They shouldn’t lose to Washington either, but that matchup will make it admittedly tougher.
Need a quality win
The Titans game was a good win, but the Bengals need to get at least one more quality win this season.
They have four real opportunities. Beating the Dolphins. Ravens, or Steelers in either of their two matchups would be impressive. Coming out of those four games with two or three wins would make anybody feel very confident about the future of this team.
Need a divisional win
Embarrassingly enough, the Bengals already got swept by the Browns this year, they cannot afford to get swept in the division.
They have another shot against the Ravens and two chances to beat the Steelers.