Every fanbase thinks their team has bad injury luck, but fans of the Cincinnati Bengals have a pretty strong case of their own.
Pro Football Focus took their Wins Above Replacement metric and applied it towards figuring out which teams have lost the most player value due to injuries. Their data goes back to 2012, and since then, no other team has lost more WAR value due to injury than the Bengals.
Of the 15 worst seasons in terms of injury damage since 2012, the Bengals are responsible for three of them. The Arizona Cardinals are the only other team that appeared on the list multiple times. 2013, 2018, and 2020 were the years the Bengals were hit the hardest, per PFF’s WAIL (WAR-Adjusted Injuries Lost) metric.
The Bengals’ 2020 season was riddled with injuries, but the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers finished ahead of them on the WAIL scale. Their respective seasons are also at the top of the WAIL leaderboard since 2012.
Those seasons are usually outliers, but for the Bengals, they’re unfortunately more common compared to the rest of the league. The NFL saw a notable increase in players missing games last year thanks in part to COVID-19. Hopefully with a full offseason and preseason returning, injuries will see an equally large decrease compared to 2020.
As for the Bengals, they’re just hoping to keep more of their stars on the field. They haven’t had a first-round pick play an injury-free season in over half a decade, so rookie wideout Ja’Marr Chase just making it through the season relatively unscathed would be a success.
This was the biggest issue last year. Joe Burrow missed the final six games due to his knee injury, and since he’s the quarterback, his WAR value is inherently higher. This is also why the 2018 season made PFF’s top 15, since both Andy Dalton and A.J. Green went down in the middle of that season.
Injuries are always going to happen, but the Bengals are well past due for a healthier season.