- After five-straight one-and-dones, the Cincinnati Bengals have missed the playoffs three-straight seasons
- The Bengals finished at the bottom of the AFC North in 2018 at 6-10
- However their 2019 playoff odds are improving; are they worth the risk?
The Cincinnati Bengals have struggled to get it right for years. After seasons of mediocrity, the Bengals strung together six playoff appearances from 2009-15. In the NFL, that’s enviable.
But they were bounced in the Wild Card round each time. Since then, it’s been three playoff-less years.
While some are expecting the Steelers to slip and the Browns and Ravens to rise up in the AFC North, the Bengals’ playoff odds have quietly been changing.
Is there a chance they can sneak their way back into the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy in their first year under rookie head coach Zac Taylor?
2019 NFL Playoff Odds
|Team||Odds to Make Playoffs at BetOnline||Odds to Miss Playoffs at BetOnline|
|Kansas City Chiefs||-500||+350|
|Los Angeles Chargers||-225||+185|
|New England Patriots||-800||+500|
|New York Jets||+275||-350|
*Odds taken 06/21/2018.
When looking at the playoff odds from BetOnline, one thing sticks out: the Bengals are nowhere to be found. Formerly +600 to make it and -1000 to miss, that particular sportsbook has removed Cincinnati from the board.
Over at Bovada , their odds have been moving. After sitting at +600, the ‘yes’ on them making the playoffs moved to +500. ‘No’ went from -1000 to -800.
That’s a step in the right direction, as far as Bengals fans are concerned, but when you consider only the Dolphins have worse average odds to make the NFL playoffs (+850), it’s a little less awe-inspiring.
Still though, something is triggering this upward movement.
Where Do Cincinnati Bengals Fall in AFC Playoff Picture?
Let’s start by breaking down the rest of the AFC and the potential playoff teams.
In the East, it’s likely just the Patriots. If there’s a second team, it’s the dysfunctional Jets.
What about in the West? We’re assuming Patrick Mahomes is good enough to get the Chiefs in, even without, Tyreek Hill. The stacked Chargers will be there, too.
That leaves the South and the North, with the Texans, Colts, Jaguars, Browns, Steelers and Ravens battling it out for two division titles and (likely) one Wild Card spot. And that’s ignoring the Titans and Bengals.
2019 Cincinnati Bengals Schedule
|Week 1||@ Seattle Seahawks||10-6|
|Week 2||vs San Francisco 49ers||4-12|
|Week 3||@ Buffalo Bills||6-10|
|Week 4||@ Pittsburgh Steelers||9-6-1|
|Week 5||vs Arizona Cardinals||3-13|
|Week 6||@ Baltimore Ravens||10-6|
|Week 7||vs Jacksonville Jaguars||5-11|
|Week 8||@ Los Angeles Rams||13-3|
|Week 10||vs Baltimore Ravens||10-6|
|Week 11||@ Oakland Raiders||4-12|
|Week 12||vs Pittsburgh Steelers||9-6-1|
|Week 13||vs New York Jets||4-12|
|Week 14||@ Cleveland Browns||7-8-1|
|Week 15||vs New England Patriots||11-5|
|Week 16||@ Miami Dolphins||7-9|
|Week 17||vs Cleveland Browns||7-8-1|
Things don’t start out easy for the Bengals, with three of four on the road. It actually makes their home-opener harder, too, as it’s a cross-country flight to open the season the week before.
The advantage, though? According to NFL research, they’re tied for the second-easiest schedule.
A team has gone from last to first in their division in 15 of the last 16 seasons.
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) April 18, 2019
This doesn’t take into account injuries from last year or additions, however, meaning San Francisco with Jimmy Garoppolo and the Jaguars with Nick Foles are better than the “math” says.
Cincinnati Bengals Must Bank on Health
Last year AJ Green was hampered by a toe injury. Could this be the start of a down-turn for the soon-to-be-31-year old?
Consider this: over nine games, Green’s 15.1 yards-per-reception was his best since 2015. He was also averaging 9.0 yards-per-target, for just the fourth time in eight years.
His 2019 totals averaged over 16 games were: 82 catches for 1,234 yards and 11 touchdowns. All of those would have been his highest since 2015.
Everyone (including myself) has been hyping up Tyler Boyd this offseason, but don’t forget about his teammate:
– Has 1,000+ yards and 6+ TDs in EVERY SEASON he’s played over 10 games
– Dalton’s a FA after this season. Could be upgrading at QB soon?
💸Contenders: BUY AJ Green!💸 pic.twitter.com/0Sm8ofEjnB
— FF_Kyle (@DynastyFF_KyleM) June 16, 2019
Many are expecting big things out of the Green/Tyler Boyd duo. Joe Mixon should be dynamic again too, after putting up 989 yards and seven TDs following early season knee surgery.
Are the Cincinnati Bengals a Good Buy?
For me, they aren’t. And it comes down to two variables.
The first is who is getting the ball to Boyd, Green and Mixon.
While last year’s thumb injury shouldn’t impede him, Andy Dalton defines the second tier. And while he’s gotten the Bengals to the dance before, he has to overcome his recent history, which isn’t great.
The other variable is the rest of the division. After finishing behind all three in 2018, the Bengals not only need to improve, but need two of the Steelers, Ravens or Browns to fall back to the pack. One will. Maybe two. But three? Not likely.
With a loaded AFC that should be fun to watch, the Bengals are tough to back.
The Pick: No (-800)
Let's have fun and keep it civil.