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The Bengals remain embarrassingly bad at helping out their defense

The last month of Bengals football has been offensively offensive.

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Cincinnati Bengals v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Three touchdowns is a pretty average output for an NFL offense nowadays. With three successful extra points added on to them, that’s 21 total points, which is one point more than 20 points.

No team is worse at winning despite holding their opponents to 20 points or fewer than the Bengals.

As Jay Morrison writes in The Athletic, the Bengals have now lost three straight games despite their defense allowing 20 points or fewer. The last time that happened was almost a decade ago, and the team that achieved that sorry feat first was the Cleveland Browns.

Somehow, despite the offensive ineptitude in the second half, the Bengals have been within one score in six of their nine losses this year. That’s a credit to the defense, at least lately.

Teams that hold their opponent to 20 or fewer points are 98-20 this year.

The Bengals have done it three weeks in a row and have gone 0-3. The last team to lose three consecutive games in which it held the opponent to 20 or fewer points was the 2012 Cleveland Browns, who lost five such games in a row.

But it gets more damning.

Going back to the start of the 2019 season, the beginning of the Zac Taylor era, the Bengals are 2-6 in games when their defense keeps the opposition under 21 points. Only one other team—the Detroit Lions (2-4)—has a losing record. Data courtesy of

Just look at how the rest of the AFC North has been:

The entire rest of the division has a combined winning percentage of 86% in this situation since Taylor was hired. The average winning percentage for the entire league is 77% since 2019, so, on average, a team has won three times out of four when they have to score more than 20 points. It’s not even that big of an accomplishment to win more than lose in this scenario; the average points per game average for this NFL season is 24.7.

The Bengals are 2-6. That’s a 25% winning percentage.

It’s low-hanging fruit at this point, but it’s astonishing how many ways you can describe the incompetence of these last two years.