2018 Bengals: All Mediocre Things Must Come to an End

Rudy's Curve

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The once perennial one-and-doners have fallen on hard times the last two years as poor drafting and talent exodus caught up to them in a big way. Nonetheless, that didn't stop them from bringing Marvin Lewis back for a 16th season and almost assuredly a 17th as it was a two-year deal. The odds were probably against them finding a better coach given who they are, but it was worth a shot as the status quo is pretty established at this point.

After letting longtime stalwart LT Andrew Whitworth walk last year, the Bengals gambled on their first two picks from 2015, Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, at tackle. That failed miserably as Ogbuehi was unable to handle the left side after flopping on the right the year before and Fisher struggled before a heart condition ended his season halfway through. When you have a QB that struggles abnormally with pressure, this is a problem especially with a perennial liability at C in Russell Bodine and a rotating cast at RG. Bodine is up for free agency and Lewis has openly talked about wanting him back (and they wonder why they never win), so I'm sure they'll bring him back a couple weeks into free agency after his market proves empty. I guess there's some hope that new OL coach Frank Pollack (the Bengals swapped line coaches with the Cowboys as longtime coach Paul Alexander was let go) can get more out of these guys, but I'm not buying any green bananas. They'll certainly be in the market for a LT, although I'm not sure any of the three main guys in this draft will be worth it at 12.

Top-10 pick John Ross had a nightmare rookie year, not catching a pass and fumbling on his only touch while alternating between being hurt and in Lewis' doghouse. The recent history of first-round receivers with lost rookie years is really bad as Santana Moss is the only one that went on to have a good career. The two are built pretty similarly, so I guess there's something to hang your hat on but he'll certainly have to buck a trend. I'd still rather take a chance on that happening than bring back Brandon LaFell, who is 31, brings nothing to this offense and can easily be cut. I hope they try to bring back Tyler Eifert as although he's obviously a huge health risk, he completely changes this offense when he is healthy.

Joe Mixon's efficiency (3.5 YPC) wasn't very good, but he was running behind a line that couldn't open up any holes and he did very good work (20/287 with 9.5 YPC and an 88% catch rate) in the passing game while Gio Bernard is an excellent change-of-pace back. Hopefully with Bill Lazor now permanently the OC with an offseason to plan and some upgrades on the line, the offense will get back to being a respectable unit. The talent is certainly there in the skill positions between Mixon and A.J. Green with the possibility of Ross and hopefully Eifert joining them.

On the other side of the ball, DC Paul Guenther took his talents to Oakland as the Bengals will have a new philosophy (Guenther was a Mike Zimmer disciple) for the first time in nine years. They brought in Teryl Austin from Detroit, whose 2014 Lions' defense was excellent which is the last time he had comparable talent to work with. After missing his rookie year, 2016 first-round CB William Jackson III ascended to an already elite level as teams didn't even bother testing him down the stretch after figuring out they couldn't complete passes in his direction. Between his and 2014 first-rounder Darqueze Dennard's emergence in the slot, they declined Adam Jones' option although they could still bring him back.

Hopefully this will be the year Vontaze Burfict avoids a suspension as they're a very good unit with him on the field. Young linebackers Nick Vigil and Jordan Evans flashed but also dealt with inconsistency and I could definitely see them taking Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds if they're still there at 12. Up front, they've openly talked about extending Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins. I'm generally not a fan of big third contracts as they'll be 30 and 31 respectively when those kick in, but they're both still playing at a high level and Atkins is a HOF-caliber talent. Hopefully sophomore Carl Lawson (8.5 sacks) gets more of an every-down role as incumbent RE Michael Johnson is 31 with a ton of mileage. The signing of Chris Baker should upgrade the interior pressure next to Atkins as he tallied 9.5 sacks in 2015-16 with Washington before flopping after signing a big deal with Tampa Bay. The hope is that he's on a one-year deal while then-DC Jim Haslett and DL coach Jacob Burney in Washington are with the Bengals now.

I have hope they can contend again this year with some luck and upgrades, although I'll believe it when I see it. Andy Dalton will also be under fire, as QBs usually don't get three sub-par years in a row and they can easily get out of his contract after this year.
 

Rudy's Curve

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And right on cue...


@JosinaAnderson 7m7 minutes ago
I'm told the #Bengals are trading for #Bills OT Cordy Glenn.

He's only played 11 and six games the last two years, but he's an upper-echelon LT when healthy and fills their biggest need by far. I'm more than happy to move down from 12 to 21 in this draft for a player like that who is under contract for three years.
 
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Rudy's Curve

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@JimOwczarski 6m6 minutes ago
Tyler Eifert is back with the #Bengals on a one-year deal. http://cin.ci/2IpGAA2

This is more good news. Although he's only played 24 games the last four years, he's been an elite red zone weapon (18 TDs) when on the field. They need to surround Dalton with as many playmakers as possible, so getting him back to go along with a massive upgrade at LT is an excellent development. If he can stay reasonably healthy and John Ross becomes a threat, this offense can be very good again.
 
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RedOctober3829

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Burfict got suspended for 4 games for a PED violation. According to Ian Rapaport, if the appeal is lost this would void his guaranteed money and the Bengals could theoretically move on from him.


If #Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict loses his appeal of a 4-game suspension, the guarantees in his 3-year, $33M contract will void. That’s nearly $11.3M. Which means Cincy can move on if they want to.
 

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@JimOwczarski 6m6 minutes ago
Tyler Eifert is back with the #Bengals on a one-year deal. http://cin.ci/2IpGAA2

This is more good news. Although he's only played 24 games the last four years, he's been an elite red zone weapon (18 TDs) when on the field. They need to surround Dalton with as many playmakers as possible, so getting him back to go along with a massive upgrade at LT is an excellent development. If he can stay reasonably healthy and John Ross becomes a threat, this offense can be very good again.
This bums me out, because I really wanted the Pats to take a flyer on him. His knock during the draft was short arms, and post draft was durability. But when healthy, he's a top 5 receiving TE and serviceable as a blocker.

I'm interested to hear your thoughts on Atkins. Has he performed to HoF standards after his injury? I haven't really been paying attention, but I was under the impression his burst has waned.
 

Rudy's Curve

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I'm interested to hear your thoughts on Atkins. Has he performed to HoF standards after his injury? I haven't really been paying attention, but I was under the impression his burst has waned.
The first year back in 2014 he wasn't himself, which wasn't surprising given he tore his ACL halfway through the previous year. He may not be 100% of what he was before the injury, but he's still an elite disruptor.
 

Rudy's Curve

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Brandon LaFell released, continuing the theme of addition by subtraction as the team has moved on from a lot of the dead weight that plagued it the last two years. This opens the door for John Ross to see the majority of outside snaps along with plus-size/speed man Josh Malone. With a revamped coaching staff and offensive line along with promising young players stepping into bigger roles, I'm very optimistic they'll be competitive again. I wouldn't dare dream of playing in the second weekend of January, but I'm dumb enough to think they'll be in the playoffs.
 

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Atkins and Dunlap both extended. Normally I'm not a fan of big third contracts, but they're both still playing at a very high level at premium positions. With them now in the fold long-term and Carl Lawson, Jordan Willis, Andrew Billings and Sam Hubbard on the rise, they have the makings of a really good and deep DL for a long time.
 

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The once perennial one-and-doners have fallen on hard times the last two years as poor drafting and talent exodus caught up to them in a big way. Nonetheless, that didn't stop them from bringing Marvin Lewis back for a 16th season and almost assuredly a 17th as it was a two-year deal. The odds were probably against them finding a better coach given who they are, but it was worth a shot as the status quo is pretty established at this point.
I hadn’t seen this until now.

I actually had the opposite take on Lewis’s future — giving him just a 2-year deal, rather than the standard 3 or 4, gives them the flexibility to move on after this season if there isn’t progress. Also, they are projected to be $69 million under the cap heading into next offseason, so if they do move on from Lewis, the new regime will have significant flexibility to remake the team — which is something the Bengals weren’t in a position to offer heading into this season.

https://overthecap.com/calculator/cincinnati-bengals/
 

Rudy's Curve

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I hadn’t seen this until now.

I actually had the opposite take on Lewis’s future — giving him just a 2-year deal, rather than the standard 3 or 4, gives them the flexibility to move on after this season if there isn’t progress. Also, they are projected to be $69 million under the cap heading into next offseason, so if they do move on from Lewis, the new regime will have significant flexibility to remake the team — which is something the Bengals weren’t in a position to offer heading into this season.

https://overthecap.com/calculator/cincinnati-bengals/
That reasoning only applies to the 31 other teams. I think the roof would have to cave in (which isn't going to happen) for Lewis to be fired - another mediocre or one-and-done season would likely just result in him being a lame duck next year like he was last year. And for better or worse, they simply do not spend big money on free agents from other teams. Whatever they use of that cap room will be extending their own guys.
 

maufman

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That reasoning only applies to the 31 other teams. I think the roof would have to cave in (which isn't going to happen) for Lewis to be fired - another mediocre or one-and-done season would likely just result in him being a lame duck next year like he was last year. And for better or worse, they simply do not spend big money on free agents from other teams. Whatever they use of that cap room will be extending their own guys.
Honestly, if they go 8-8 with the talent they’ve got, Lewis deserves another season. But if they muddle through a third consecutive losing season, I do think they will move on from Lewis— which probably means big changes in the front office too (any new coach worth his salt will insist on some changes), and perhaps a change in the strategy they’ve pursued for the past 15 years.
 
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Rudy's Curve

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Honestly, if they go 8-8 with the talent they’ve got, Lewis deserves another season. But if they muddle through a third consecutive losing season, I do think they will move on from Lewis— which probably means big changes in the front office too, and perhaps a change in the strategy they’ve pursued for the past 15 years.
I'm not going to believe any noise in January until I see it, but they have much better talent than 8-8. LT and C were massive liabilities last year and both were sufficiently addressed. There's no question that the right side of the line is still a problem though and could ultimately sink them. If Eifert can stay reasonably healthy and Ross can play to his talent, they're going to have four good to excellent skill players on the field between them, Green and Mixon plus a good slot receiver in Tyler Boyd and second TE in Tyler Kroft. On the other side of the ball, they have maybe the deepest DL in the league including a ferocious unit in pass rush situations (Dunlap, Carl Lawson, Atkins and whomever kicks inside between Michael Johnson, Jordan Willis and Sam Hubbard), a solid LB corps when Burfict returns and a good secondary with a shutdown corner in William Jackson.

This team has done nothing but kick me in the teeth my entire life so I have no reason to be a homer, but they're way better than people are giving them credit for. The last time I felt they were this undervalued going into the year was in 2015 when they were an elite team before an untimely Dalton injury ruined their season. This team isn't as good, but I expect them to be in the playoffs and compete for a division title.
 

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I think you're right. I think it's a dogfight with Pittsburgh and if I had to bet I'd say it's the Steelers who end up in the wild card spot.
 

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This team should have beaten the Colts convincingly, but they rarely ever make it easy. Credit to Luck for maneuvering in the pocket to escape sacks and take what they gave him underneath. They did a good job not letting Hilton get going and shutting down the running game, but the pass rush has to get home more against better teams. Although the Colts probably have the least talented defense in the league, this was the Mixon we've been waiting for as he was patient for the hole to open and then decisive going through it. They're going to need him and the rest of the skill players to be great every week since the right side of the OL proved to be a disaster. I don't know how you can willingly go into a season with Alex Redmond (a third-year undrafted player with zero starts) and Bobby Hart (a Giants castoff) as starters, and it proved costly as they were routinely beaten in pass protection and Hart gave up two sacks to ex-Bengals bust Margus Hunt. Jake Fisher's career hasn't exactly inspired confidence, but I can't see how he'd be any worse than Hart while a second OL coach has now buried Christian Westerman who was inactive. There's zero doubt he's going to be the next Evan Mathis - a quality player the Bengals ignored who went on to be very productive for another team. At least Mathis was actually in a rotation at one point though - Westerman has never gotten off the ground.

Onto Thursday night and a big home game against the Ravens for the early division lead. I'm confident that the pass rush will be more of a factor at home and against a less mobile QB, but they can't let Collins get going and the right side of the line is going to be really tested against a much stouter front.
 

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For the first time since Week 9 of 2015, I can say that football is fun again. Things still aren't perfect (that never should've been a one-score game late and the next time they don't allow points inside two minutes of the half will be the first), but they did what they had to do. This offense is very hard to stop when Mixon gets rolling and Dalton is able to get it out quick to mitigate the protection issues on the right side. Unfortunately, one of last year's big problems appeared again as they were unable to get anything going in the second half. Defensively, the rush was able to get home enough and force Flacco into some bad throws to create turnovers where they were simply unable last year.

Off to Carolina next weekend followed by a trip to Atlanta. It's a tough two-game swing, but both those teams have their issues (Carolina is badly banged up offensively and Atlanta defensively). I expect them to get at least one win, and it's nice to already have two conference wins and a division win in the bank.
 

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For the first time since Week 9 of 2015, I can say that football is fun again. Things still aren't perfect (that never should've been a one-score game late and the next time they don't allow points inside two minutes of the half will be the first), but they did what they had to do. This offense is very hard to stop when Mixon gets rolling and Dalton is able to get it out quick to mitigate the protection issues on the right side. Unfortunately, one of last year's big problems appeared again as they were unable to get anything going in the second half. Defensively, the rush was able to get home enough and force Flacco into some bad throws to create turnovers where they were simply unable last year.

Off to Carolina next weekend followed by a trip to Atlanta. It's a tough two-game swing, but both those teams have their issues (Carolina is badly banged up offensively and Atlanta defensively). I expect them to get at least one win, and it's nice to already have two conference wins and a division win in the bank.
It's funny how much of an impact a few plays can have on a game. I thought the game was pretty evenly played but the score could have been wildly different in either direction.

For example, the Ravens had CIN stopped on two first half drives except for two penalties that were kind of close (not saying they were bad calls but weren't egregious) and then decided to try Tavon Young on AJ Green twice in the slot, which turned out to be a very bad mismatch.

OTOH, CIN decides to go for the throat at the end of the first half instead of just running the ball three times and going in 28-7 but gives BAL a chance to score a TD at the half to make it 28-14.

Losing Mosley in the first half on a short week I thought really hurt BAL.

Kudos to the first-place and undefeated Bengals though.
 

Rudy's Curve

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It's funny how much of an impact a few plays can have on a game. I thought the game was pretty evenly played but the score could have been wildly different in either direction.

For example, the Ravens had CIN stopped on two first half drives except for two penalties that were kind of close (not saying they were bad calls but weren't egregious) and then decided to try Tavon Young on AJ Green twice in the slot, which turned out to be a very bad mismatch.

OTOH, CIN decides to go for the throat at the end of the first half instead of just running the ball three times and going in 28-7 but gives BAL a chance to score a TD at the half to make it 28-14.

Losing Mosley in the first half on a short week I thought really hurt BAL.

Kudos to the first-place and undefeated Bengals though.
The PI may have been a little tacky, but it's generally going to get called more often than not. There was also a similar one on the other side on Dennard that Pereira disagreed with that gave the Ravens their first TD. I thought the Suggs penalty was fairly clear.

The end of the half completely backfired on the Bengals, but even with a 21-point lead you have to stay aggressive. The Ravens had all three timeouts so they would've gotten the ball back with a minute left anyways and a kicker that has unlimited range. They fucked it up by Kirkpatrick dropping an easy pick (news at 11), missing a tackle on Collins and then Kirkpatrick taking a really dumb penalty (drink), plus the timeout that nullified the OPI on Crabtree and then Dunlap missing a clear shot at Flacco on the TD.

Although the Bengals have had success there recently, playing in Baltimore is never easy so it was especially important to get this one. There's a lot of season left though.
 

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After forcing a three-and-out and following it up with an 11-play, 75-yard TD drive, I thought they were on their way to a 3-0 start. Then Newton and McCaffrey happened, and a banged up Panthers OL dominated the Bengals up front and badly exposed their linebackers. Preston Brown isn't a star by any means, but he would've been nice to have out there yesterday instead of Hardy Nickerson who would not be in the league if Marvin didn't coach his father more than 25 years ago. Dre Kirkpatrick also dropped another easy interception and Sam Hubbard had a Dunlap strip-sack in his lap which he couldn't fall on.

I was optimistic about John Ross all offseason despite first-round WRs with lost rookie years almost never rebounding, but the signs so far are really ominous. He was the target yesterday on two interceptions, the second of which he completely cut off his route. His speed is a legitimate weapon and his presence on the field does open things up, but he's never going to be more than that if Dalton can't trust him. Thankfully Tyler Boyd has become a real threat and the go-to guy when things break down. Tyler Eifert also was a big factor and it's only a matter of time before he finds the end zone. Of course, Alex Redmond killed another drive with a holding penalty - who knew an undrafted guard from a big school (so everyone saw him play) isn't a starting-caliber NFL player in his third year?

Ultimately, just a frustrating day. At least it was an NFC loss but with Miami's emergence and Mayfield now starting, the only cupcake they have the rest of the way is the Raiders in Week 15. Another tough test awaits them next week in Atlanta - a loss wouldn't kill them given that they'll have played three road games but a win would really help going into a big three-game stretch against Miami, Pittsburgh and at KC.
 

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Condolences @Rudy's Curve that was gruesome. Just when Eifert looked like he was starting to show his old dominant form too.
This one hurts. He's certainly injury-prone, but it's almost impossible to have luck as bad as he's had. At least this time they have more than just Green and a much better line than last year. I wasn't a fan of Tyler Boyd as a second-rounder due to his limited athleticism and he bottomed out last year, but the guy just knows where to be. He made three huge catches on the final drive, all on third/fourth and long as he's become the go-to guy in those situations.

The Falcons in Atlanta are a tall task, but there were still way too many defensive breakdowns. Hopefully the second half was a start in the right direction and Burfict coming back next week will improve the communication, plus it'll help to just have a damn good player on the field. Being 3-1 and 2-0 in the conference with a win over the Ravens without Burfict playing a down and having played three road games is practically a best-case scenario. Mixon will also be back for a key game against the Dolphins next week.

They only have to leave home once in the next six weeks (a trip to Arrowhead in Week 7) and twice in the next nine (both include a bye), so it's time to really make some hay. I'd be surprised if the Steelers didn't beat them at least once, but their at JAC/at DEN/NE/at NO gauntlet that no one else has to face combined with their start means this is looking like a two-horse race.
 
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Yeah simply a huge game coming up this weekend. Conference game, at home. Chance to get to 3-0 in conference against another potential playoff team. A loss would really sting. Miami is gonna be pissed coming out of that abomination yesterday. Bengals will have their hands full. Should be a good one. Go Bengals!
 

Rudy's Curve

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Yesterday had all the makings of a trap game, as they were coming off a big win with their arch rival on deck against a team that got waxed the week before, and it certainly seemed that way for three quarters. Then they caught a break with Tunsil getting hurt, went to work on replacement Sam Young and Miami's banged-up OL and the rest is history.

It certainly was rough for three quarters though. Dalton threw a red-zone interception, William Jackson dropped a pick-six, they had a short FG blocked and they gave up a punt return TD with under a minute to go in the half. The season has gotten off to as good a start as you could ask for, but they're just absolutely atrocious at not allowing points at the end of the half which needs to get rectified as they face better offenses coming up. They also couldn't run the ball for three quarters as the Dolphins executed some well-timed run blitzes. Thankfully that opened up in the fourth as Mixon keyed the comeback with an excellent TD catch and then found some running lanes before a Dunlap strip-sack landed right in Sam Hubbard's arms to seal the win. They really need to avoid having Hardy Nickerson matched up with guys who run like Kenyan Drake going forward and they had another horrible third-and-forever conversion via missed tackles, but otherwise the defense was very good as Burfict played 34 snaps in his return.

With Baltimore's loss to Cleveland, they've re-taken sole possession of first again as Pittsburgh comes to town this week. A win would put them 2.5 up on the Steelers and make it very hard for them to come back given their schedule down the stretch. Billy Price and Bernard will be out, but hopefully they get Ross back and have all possible hands on deck.
 
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RedOctober3829

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Yesterday had all the makings of a trap game, as they were coming off a big win with their arch rival on deck against a team that got waxed the week before, and it certainly seemed that way for three quarters. Then they caught a break with Tunsil getting hurt, went to work on replacement Sam Young and Miami's banged-up OL and the rest was history.

It certainly was rough for three quarters though. Dalton threw a red-zone interception, William Jackson dropped a pick-six, they had a short FG blocked and they gave up a punt return TD with under a minute to go in the half. The season has gotten off to as good a start as you could ask for, but they're just absolutely atrocious at not allowing points at the end of the half which needs to get rectified as they face better offenses coming up. They also couldn't run the ball for three quarters as the Dolphins executed some well-timed run blitzes. Thankfully that opened up in the fourth as Mixon keyed the comeback with an excellent TD catch and then found some running lanes before a Dunlap strip-sack landed right in Sam Hubbard's arms to seal the win. They really need to avoid having Hardy Nickerson matched up with guys who run like Kenyan Drake going forward and they had another horrible third-and-forever conversion via missed tackles, but otherwise the defense was very good as Burfict played 34 snaps in his return.

With Baltimore's loss to Cleveland, they've re-taken sole possession of first again as Pittsburgh comes to town this week. A win would put them 2.5 up on the Steelers and make it very hard for them to come back given their schedule down the stretch. Billy Price and Bernard will be out, but hopefully they get Ross back and have all possible hands on deck.
You've got yourself a very good football team this year, Rudy. Do you think the Chiefs game in Week 7(currently a 1 pm game) will get flexed out to SNF? I would think NBC and the NFL want to get out of the Rams-Niners game currently scheduled for SNF.
 

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For whatever reason, since last year, my son who isn’t now 6 loves the Bengals. So we pay attention to them on the red zone. I have to say, I’m glad he got me into them. I really like Dalton.

This Pitt game just seems like a game the Bengals find a way to lose, I hope they don’t.
 

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You've got yourself a very good football team this year, Rudy. Do you think the Chiefs game in Week 7(currently a 1 pm game) will get flexed out to SNF? I would think NBC and the NFL want to get out of the Rams-Niners game currently scheduled for SNF.
I'd imagine they'd go to Saints-Ravens or Pats-Bears (unless the Pats can't be flexed in because they already have five primetime games). Although you have Mahomes on the other side, the Bengals just don't bring many eyeballs. They were flexed in against Arizona three years ago, but the only other big game that week was Packers-Vikings which FOX may have protected and the Packers were already in primetime five times.
 
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Rudy's Curve

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For whatever reason, since last year, my son who isn’t now 6 loves the Bengals. So we pay attention to them on the red zone. I have to say, I’m glad he got me into them. I really like Dalton.

This Pitt game just seems like a game the Bengals find a way to lose, I hope they don’t.
Dalton has certainly had his frustrating moments over the years especially in January, but he's always represented the organization well and is playing close to the best football of his career right now (he was great in 2015 too). As for Sunday, it will be a good test of how far they've come. The Steelers have underperformed, but they've still got a ton of talent on offense and Dalton has rarely played well against them. Hopefully the results since the switch to Bill Lazor at OC after two games last year continue as Dalton has been much better under him against division opponents and teams that saw him the year before.
 

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I'd imagine they'd go to Saints-Ravens or Pats-Bears (unless the Pats can't be flexed in because they already have five primetime games). Although you have Mahomes on the other side, the Bengals just don't bring many eyeballs. They were flexed in against Arizona three years ago, but the only other big game that week was Packers-Vikings which FOX may have protected and the Packers were already in primetime five times.
Bengals-KC was just flexed to SNF per Schefter.
 

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Besides the obvious officiating disgrace on the final drive (either you let them play and don't call the Kirkpatrick hold or you call it straight up and flag the OPI), that game really exposed Marvin Lewis' flaws. With the Steelers having three timeouts, they needed to score at the end with as little time as possible. Instead, they threw on first down from the 11 with 1:24 left and voluntarily went out of bounds when time wasn't an obstacle at all. In addition, they punted on 4th and 1 from the Pittsburgh 40 on the first drive of the second half which is a complete chickenshit move. Most disappointing of all was the pass rush was a complete zero - they never even laid a finger on Roethlisberger or forced him into any bad throws.

I suppose you're going to have games like that over a season, but it's just incredibly disappointing that it always happens in the same ways with the same team. A win would have made it very hard for the Steelers to get back in the race and also given the Bengals a division win for a potential tiebreaker with Baltimore, but now they're staring at 4-3 with a trip to KC this week.
 

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They're actually still in decent shape to win the division given the Steelers' brutal schedule down the stretch and they already have a win over the Ravens (the Steelers loss doesn't hurt for tiebreaker purposes since they have a tie), plus they still have Denver at home and both Browns games which the other two don't. That being said, even in a best-case scenario where they win the division and somehow win a playoff game (I know I'm putting the cart well before the horse), all that guarantees is a trip to Foxboro or a return to Arrowhead. What's the fucking point?
 

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Maybe when you haven't won a playoff game since Bush I you should always take a win, but this is as least satisfying a win as I can ever remember. Thank god Winston may as well have bet on the Bengals or else it would've been even uglier. They were missing both their nickel LBs and their nickel corner who are three of their better players (although Burfict has played like shit this year), but these results are just inexcusable. Teryl Austin's 2014 Lions defense was very good which was the last time he had a dominant 3T before this year, so it's baffling to see how a defense that's been good more or less the last 10 years can be this bad. And now they've lost Carl Lawson for the season, who hasn't found a way to get home this year but was still applying a ton of pressure. This means even more snaps for nonagenarian Michael Johnson, possibly the worst player in the league. Thankfully he's a captain and his invaluable leadership has really taught these young guys how to become pros.

Offensively, they predictably beat up on a terrible Bucs defense in the first half but then the same old second half problems persisted. Here are their second half point totals this year after removing defensive TDs: 17 (against an awful Colts defense), 6, 7, 9, 10, 7, 3, 3. That's just not going to get it done against even halfway decent teams and it has no chance of working against good teams.

The bye comes at a very opportune time as they'll have their work cut out for them and more with the Saints coming into town in two weeks. It will also allow them to get well as they didn't have a single healthy scratch yesterday. Billy Price will be back (hopefully at RG as Alex Redmond sucks and Trey Hopkins has done a very good job at C, but it ain't happening) along with potentially Burfict, Nick Vigil (their best cover LB), nickel CB Darqueze Dennard and likely Gio Bernard. With the Ravens getting waxed in Carolina, the Bengals now have a one-game lead over them and trail the Steelers by percentage points while Pittsburgh has used both their Browns bullets to the Bengals' neither and has a much tougher remaining schedule.
 

Rudy's Curve

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Even for an organization absolutely loathe to change, the firing of DC Teryl Austin had to happen as Marvin will take over playcalling. I was a fan of the hiring given he did decent work in Detroit and had a very good unit when Suh was there, but they've just been beyond awful. They're on pace to let up the most yards ever, are currently letting up the worst third down conversion rate ever (and it's not close) and just allowed the most yards ever in a four-game span while becoming the first team ever to give up 500 yards in three straight games. While the linebackers are atrocious (Burfict hasn't done much in the three games he's played and they've been missing their best one in Nick Vigil for a month), there's enough talent there that this simply can't happen. If the KC game confirmed how far they are from competing with the upper-echelon teams, yesterday drove it home with a bulldozer. The schedule certainly eases up from here (they still have the Browns twice and Denver/Oakland both at home), but they're going to need to show some signs of life defensively and Dalton to be able to make a play without Green.
 

Rudy's Curve

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It's just impossible to be this bad inside two minutes of the half. Let's recap how those situations have gone this year:

Week 1: Bengals kick off with 1:44 left, Colts kick FG
Week 2: Bengals get ball with 1:22 left, go three and out, Ravens score TD
Week 3: Panthers get ball at own 2 with 1:09 left, run out the clock
Week 4: Bengals kick off with :44 left, Falcons kick FG
Week 5: Bengals get ball with 1:15 left, go three and out, Dolphins return punt for TD
Week 6: Steelers kick off with 1:14 left, Bengals score TD
Week 7: Chiefs kick off with 1:55 left, Bengals go three and out, Chiefs kick FG
Week 8: Bengals kick off with 2:34 left, Bucs kick FG
Week 10: Saints kick off with 1:27 left, Bengals throw interception, Saints score TD
Week 11: Ravens kick off with 1:46 left, Bengals punt, Ravens kick FG

They've allowed points in nine of 10 games and the only time they didn't was when Carolina started at their own 2. Five times they've given up points when they've started a drive inside two minutes. That should happen what, twice a year maybe? Of course, those three points yesterday ended up making the difference. The defense generally played well after the first drive where there were communication issues compounded by a stupid Dre Kirkpatrick personal foul. Unfortunately, they had a chance to give them a great opportunity to win up eight in the third with the Ravens facing 2nd and 17 from their own 13 and ended up allowing a TD. Still, there were enough positive signs given there's not a ton of film on Jackson and they didn't have the advantage of facing a rookie QB on the road that they can be a passable unit going forward.

On the other side of the ball, it's unfortunately starting to look like there's a reason Bill Lazor has already failed as a coordinator. Scoring 21 points in Baltimore with no Green is hardly awful, but two of the drives were from short fields and they failed to move the chains again. Since Eifert went down, they've scored 118 offensive points in 6.5 games which includes 30 against the Bucs, a garbage time TD against the Saints and two TDs from short fields yesterday. Especially with the weapons decimated and a QB that doesn't elevate his teammates, Lazor needs to be much more creative. Backup QB Jeff Driskel can be a weapon on zone reads which they used against the Saints, but it was completely shelved yesterday. They have the fastest player in the league in John Ross and only take deep shots with him outside the red zone - good offensive coaches find ways to get players like that the ball in space. Thankfully Green may be back this week, since they're toast without him. They also killed themselves on special teams with four penalties along with Randy Bullock missing a 52-yarder with no wind to tie the game, which I would bet most kickers make in 2018. Justin Tucker is the GOAT, but it's infuriating to watch him hit 55-yarders with ease while Bullock can't hit from 52.

The division race is probably over as they're 2.5 behind the Steelers now, but they probably have the best shot of all the 5-5 teams fighting it out for the last playoff spot. They beat Indianapolis and Miami while they have an easier schedule remaining than Baltimore and Tennessee is 3-5 in the conference and just lost their QB. If they can find four more wins (sweeping the Browns is hardly a given or they'd have to win at LAC or PIT), I think they'll get in. If that's the case, I'd rather just get blown out in Foxboro - I can't take any more Houston or Pittsburgh disasters.
 

cgori

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Your point is taken, but in the interest of accuracy, I think it's 8 out of 10 where they allowed points. In week 6, it was the Bengals that scored, rather than the opposition.
 

Rudy's Curve

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Your point is taken, but in the interest of accuracy, I think it's 8 out of 10 where they allowed points. In week 6, it was the Bengals that scored, rather than the opposition.
The Steelers kicked off with 1:14 left after scoring a TD.
 

cgori

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You mean there's a reason the Steelers kicked off?! Whoops, total cognitive failure there.
 

DeadlySplitter

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The paper tigers are exposed once more.

With this franchise though it can always get worse. That is scary.
 

johnmd20

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Bengals since 2015 by week:
Weeks 1-5: 13-7 (65%)
Weeks 6-9: 6-5-1 (55%)
Weeks 10-16: 8-16 (33%)
This stat says to me that the team generally has a lot of talent, so they win early as everyone is figuring out what they have. But as the season progresses, nothing the coaching staff is doing improves the team. And, obviously, this is with years and years of playoffs failures. This is the opposite of a team like the Patriots.

In effect, Lewis' time should be ending.
 

BernieRicoBoomer

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This stat says to me that the team generally has a lot of talent, so they win early as everyone is figuring out what they have. But as the season progresses, nothing the coaching staff is doing improves the team. And, obviously, this is with years and years of playoffs failures. This is the opposite of a team like the Patriots.

In effect, Lewis' time should be ending.
And on to Hue Jackson...
https://www.cincyjungle.com/2018/11/25/18111115/hue-jackson-bengals-head-coach-marvin-lewis-nfl-rumors
 

HomeRunBaker

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Cellar-Door

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Hue was put in a great situation, coaching defense against a team whose offense he should know inside and out since they haven't had time to change much. With his help the Bengals got destroyed by a bad offense. If he gets another NFL job it's a crime
 

Rudy's Curve

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Yup. This is the Bengals......wouldn't it make complete and total sense for an offensive coach to be coaching defense?
They put him on defense because they fired the DC and needed additional help there with Marvin calling plays.

Hue isn't why they're losing. The defense has cratered in every which way imaginable, their best player got hurt and the QB is nonfunctional without him. Voila.
 

Rudy's Curve

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Having lived in Cincinnati for almost 20 years now -- this is so comical it makes perfect sense. IMHO the Bengals are truly doomed until the Brown family decides to sell and that may not happen for a long time.
I can only hope Katie & Troy are different than Mike just like he was different than Paul. I'm not holding my breath though.
 

rslm

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I can only hope Katie & Troy are different than Mike just like he was different than Paul. I'm not holding my breath though.
Rudy -- I had this exact conversation with a friend of mine who's a Bengal fan. She shared the same sentiment, but didn't realize Katie's been involved with the Bengals since 1991. I'm always amazed at how loyal the fans here are. They deserve new ownership.