We’ve come to the determination that Marvin Lewis is either the luckiest son of a gun on the planet, or he’s got some potentially compromising data on someone in the brass of the Cincinnati Bengals. There’s just no other way that a man who has never won a playoff game in his career has a job with the same franchise after 14 seasons.
Following a 6-9-1 season a year ago, Lewis is firmly on one of the hottest seats in the NFL. Not only is it playoffs or bust in the Queen City, but it might take a postseason win as well to keep the franchise from searching for a new head coach for the first time since 2003.
Why the Bengals Will Overachieve in 2017
An offense that ranked No. 24 in the league in scoring last season blows up in 2017 thanks to the additions of John Ross and Joe Mixon. Mixon impresses in training camp and slowly supplants both Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill in the backfield, ultimately accounting for over 1,000 all-purpose yards. Ross doesn’t end up with the greatest numbers for a rookie, but he averages more than 20 yards per catch and really opens up the rest of this offense.
A.J. Green gets through a full 16 games and threatens the 2,000-yard mark thanks to Andy Dalton’s career year. All of the sudden, this team is scoring 30+ points a week before its bye with games against the Ravens, Texans, Packers, Browns and Bills.
The Bengals head into Thanksgiving at 6-4 but win all three games on a crucial home stand in Weeks 12-14, and that propels them into the playoffs. Best of all? Cincinnati finally gets a respectable draw in the Wild Card round against a team like Oakland and picks up that elusive first playoff victory since the Boomer Esiason era. Sure, the ceiling is the AFC Championship Game, but grasping that first postseason victory proves to be a huge boon for the franchise.
Why the Bengals Will Underachieve in 2017
The Bengals turn out to be much more of the same in 2017. Ross evolves into nothing more than a fourth receiving option, and Mixon smacks around some gal at Crystal Burger and is booted from the league for life. As a result, the offense remains a one-man show with Green. There are games that the former Georgia Bulldog takes over and wins by himself, but there are others
when he’s completely neutralized, and the Cincinnati offense is stuck in quicksand.
In an act of desperation, offensive coordinator Ken Zampese is canned during the team’s Week 6 bye, but matters aren’t made any better when the Bengals are shutout by Pittsburgh at Heinz Field in Week 7.
A talented defense once again can’t stay out of its own way. The Bengals end up leading the league in penalties, penalty yards and fines due to misconduct on the field, and it all ends with fans rioting after the Browns come to Paul Brown Stadium and win in Week 12.
Lewis is fired after the loss, but the damage is already done in what turns out to be another lost season.
2017 Cincinnati Bengals Schedule
Week 1: vs. Ravens
Week 2: vs. Texans
Week 3: at Packers
Week 4: at Browns
Week 5: vs. Bills
Week 6: Bye
Week 7: at Steelers
Week 8: vs. Colts
Week 9: at Jaguars
Week 10: at Titans
Week 11: at Broncos
Week 12: vs. Browns
Week 13: vs. Steelers
Week 14: vs. Bears
Week 15: at Vikings
Week 16: vs. Lions
Week 17: at Ravens
Bengals Pick ‘Em Contest Best Bet: Week 1 vs. Ravens
A.J. Green has scored at least one touchdown in five straight games against the Ravens, and he’s gone for at least 131 yards in three of those five games. Baltimore’s cornerback situation isn’t good; Jimmy Smith has been terrorized by Green in the past, and that turns out to be the case again in Week 1. There’s a lot of questions on this Baltimore offense as well, namely at the receiver positions. With Dennis Pitta’s season already over and Steve Smith now retired, there isn’t an obvious choice for a No. 1 target on an offense that is probably going to throw the ball more than 60 percent of the time. If teams are going to jump on Baltimore, it’s probably best to do so early in the season. Week 1 looks pretty tough on paper for our NFL Pick ‘Em Contests, but Cincinnati over Baltimore feels like a solid choice.
Bengals Pick ‘Em Contest Top Fade: Week 2 vs. Texans
A far less obvious choice. There’s a good chance Cincinnati will be favored in this game, particularly if it wins in Week 1. The Texans though, just seem to have the Bengals’ number. They flat out shut down the Bengals last year on Christmas Eve to clinch a playoff berth, holding them to just 270 total yards of offense, 86 of which came on one long busted play to Brandon LaFell. Houston’s ground and pound offense put up 94 rushing yards in that contest, and that was with Alfred Blue carrying the ball 21 times. With Lamar Miller healthy, this matchup could end up being a big problem for the Bengals.