The Cincinnati Bengals started the season strong.
Despite a 1-2-1 first four games, the Bengals had managed to break even with their opponents, losing two one-score games, tying one, and winning the other by eight. It was after that that Cincinnati started to struggle.
They lost three straight, won one, and then lost five straight.
At the end of that second losing streak, the team watched franchise quarterback Joe Burrow go down with a torn ACL among other knee damage done in a brutal blow against Washington Football Team.
Burrow will recovery, but it was painful for fans to see. After that, the Bengals actually had a two-game win streak which some could argue did more bad than good. Nonetheless, the team ended 4-11-1.
Where did they rank at the end of the season though? Let’s see where experts placed them.
The Bengals allowed No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow to take a beating in his rookie year, one that was ultimately ended prematurely by a terrible knee injury. Burrow’s rehab from reconstructive surgery appears to be on track, and now Cincinnati needs to apply common sense and put its focus this offseason on protecting its most prized asset. Consider it a major surprise if Cincinnati doesn’t pour millions of dollars and draft picks into fixing the offensive line. Take the road map of the Cleveland Browns and follow it closely.
This will be a big year for coach Zac Taylor, so he needs a healthy Joe Burrow in his rehab from knee surgery. The offensive line has to be better.
QB Joe Burrow’s recovery from a torn ACL appears on track. Now Cincy needs to get the rebuild of the O-line in front of him on track.
This shouldn’t be complicated. The Bengals lost their franchise quarterback for the season because of shaky offensive line play. Cincinnati needs to strengthen that unit through the draft and free agency. Joe Burrow could also use another quality receiving option to join Tyler Boyd and breakout rookie Tee Higgins. Helping Burrow also means being better defensively and putting less of a burden on the offense and the young quarterback. Cincinnati could use a quality edge rusher, regardless of what happens once Carl Lawson hits free agency. — Ben Baby
The Bengals might take a few more defensive lumps in free agency. They can compensate with more balanced and explosive offense led by a healthy Joe Burrow and a healthy Joe Mixon. Don’t be surprised if they displace the Steelers, but the Ravens and Browns can still stack the AFC North odds against them.
Cincinnati has to feel good about their quarterback situation, but what about everything else? Head coach Zac Taylor needs to make jump in Year 3.