Over the course of 32 days (or so) I will be previewing all 32 NFL teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2014 season. This post is previewing the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals have won the AFC North each of the last three seasons but don’t have any playoff wins to go along with the regular season success, which is a common occurrence during Marvin Lewis‘ 11 seasons as the team’s head coach. The Bengals have won five division titles during that span and lost in the wild-card round of the playoffs each time.
QB Andy Dalton has improved in most of his stats, with interceptions being a notable exception, in each of his three seasons as the team’s starter. Of course, having A.J. Green, one of the league’s top receivers, would help any quarterback’s stats. Two running backs put up similar numbers for the team last year, with veteran BenJarvus Green-Ellis running for 756 yards and seven touchdowns in 16 starts while rookie Giovani Bernard had 695 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Bernard also added 514 yards and three touchdowns through the air. The team continued to have a strong defense in 2013 under defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who has moved on to become the Minnesota Vikings‘ head coach this season.
The team’s key players are coming back this year, but both coordinators are gone with Zimmer in Minnesota and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden now the head coach of the Washington Redskins. We’ll see if the absence of either coordinator has a significant effect on the team with former Raiders head coach Hue Jackson and Bengals linebackers coach Paul Guenther taking over on offense and defense, respectively.
The Bengals have a tough schedule ahead of them with out-of-division road games against the Patriots, Colts and Saints while the Broncos visit Cincinnati in week 16. Despite that schedule, the Bengals look like they should still be the best team in the division and \double-digit wins are probably within reach again after last year’s 11-5 campaign.