2018 Record: 6-10, 4th in AFC North
2018 Success: Improved Run Game
2018 Failure: Atrocious Defense
Offensive MVP: Joe Mixon
Defensive MVP: Geno Atkins
O/U Wins: 6 (Over -125/Under +105)
Record Prediction: 5-11
The Bengals have a lot of question marks, but their biggest one will be; can the defense improve enough to compliment an offense that has limited firepower?
The Bengals defense was its Achilles heel last season. They were worst in the league in yards allowed/game and gave up the third most points to the tune of 455. This was due in large part to the fact that they had virtually no pass rush. They were horrible all the way around, ranking in the bottom five in almost every major category. Geno Atkins is still a force up front, and contributed 10 sacks last year, but he can’t do it all by himself. They didn’t add any difference makers in free agency and, unless I’m missing something, will really struggle to get stops again this year.
As for the offense, they did a decent job protecting the ball, but an aging AJ Green and a tight end in Tyler Eifert that can’t stay healthy is going to negatively affect their ability to pass. Mixon is a bright
spot for this team, having a breakout sophomore year with 1100+ rushing yards and 8 TDs, but in today’s NFL the passing game is king. If the defense doesn’t improve from last year the offense will need to score a ton of points, and I don’t think they will be capable of doing that.
At the end of the day, it’s hard for me to find more than 5 wins in their schedule, and that’s being generous. The defense is not built for today’s NFL where a pass rush is a necessity. Teams can get away with a lacking pass rush if they have elite coverage on the back-end, but that’s not the case here. With the lack of horses on both sides of the ball, I think 5 wins is best-case scenario for this team. Give me the under for Cincinnati.