Cincy has actually made the playoffs a couple of times over the last five seasons, only to make quick exits. Then, just when you think the Bengals might become annual playoff contenders, they come up with a season like last year.
Most sportsbooks sent Cincinnati off last year at right around +300 to win the AFC North, +1,500 to win the AFC and +2,500 to win the Super Bowl, with a regular-season wins over/under of eight. And the Bengals started 2-1, with a win over Baltimore. But gloom set in and Cincy proceeded to lose its next 10 in a row, seven of them by one score or less, to fall off the map. The Bengals then salvaged two of their last three to finish at 4-12.
Somehow, Cincy managed to go 7-9 ATS, which is better than most 4-12 teams do.
The Bengals offense ranked 20th overall last year at 331 YPG, a disappointing 27th in rushing at just 95 YPG but 10th in time-of-possession at 31:13.
Defensively Cincy ranked a respectable 15th at 332 YPG, and 19th vs the run at 115 YPG.
Overall the Bengals ranked 18th last year in total yardage at -1 YPG, which is a figure more appropriate for an 8-8 team.
Now, on top of its usual struggles, Cincy goes into this season with a big question at quarterback. As of this writing Carson Palmer was still a Bengal, but was also apparently still planning on staying retired. If that remains the case either rookie Andy Dalton or journeyman Brad Gradkowski will be the week-one starter at QB for the Bengals.
This off-season brought some change to Cincinnati. The Bengals parted ways with WRs Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, LB Dhani Jones and CB Johnathan Joseph, added CB Nate Clements and LB Manny Lawson, and re-signed RB Cedric Benson. And they went offense with first two picks in the draft, taking Georgia WR AJ Green at No. 4 overall and TCU QB Dalton at No. 35.
This year’s schedule is rather kind, with the first four games vs. teams that had losing records last year. There’s also six games vs. teams that made the playoffs last year, and play dates at Jacksonville, Tennessee and St. Louis. Overall Cincy’s schedule is tied for fourth-easiest in the league.
Bodog.eu is offering the Bengals at +1,400 to win the AFC North this season, 50/1 to win the AFC and 100/1 to win the Super Bowl, with a wins O/U of 5.5. Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff game since 1990, which is the longest such drought in the league. And without Palmer that won’t change this season. If he returns the Bengals would have a decent team. Cincy showed a couple of years ago it can run the ball with Benson, and the defense ain’t bad. Maybe taking the unders all year on the Bengals will pay off.