The Bengals, for the first time in five years, didn't end their season with a loss in the AFC wild-card round. Instead, they finished 6-9-1 in 2016 and failed to make the postseason altogether.
For Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton, it's deja vu all over again entering 2017. Could big changes be coming in the offseason if, yet again, Cincy fails to get a playoff win? After adding two explosive weapons in the draft in speedster WR John Ross and controversial RB Joe Mixon, there's reason for optimism. Here's what's in store.
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|Projected wins||In playoffs||Win division||Conference||Super Bowl|
SportsLine projects a nice rebound season after last year's forgettable six-win campaign, and the odds for a return to the playoffs are basically a coin toss. While the Steelers are still the favorites to win the division, the Bengals are projected to have a better shot than you may think.
|Win total||Playoffs||Division||Conference||Super Bowl|
|8.5 (U -125)||+140||+450||30/1||60/1|
All odds via Westgate.
There's a disagreement between how the Bengals are being bet and how they're projected to finish by SportsLine. Bettors are slightly leaning toward the team winning eight games or less, while taking the Bengals at any of these playoff bet odds are value plays based on the projections above.
John Breech defends his 11-5 prediction:
After watching the Bengals make the playoffs for five straight seasons (2011-15), everyone seems to be writing them off after one bad year in 2016. Basically, I just don't think the Bengals were as horrible as their 6-9-1 record might indicate.
First of all, they had to play most of the season without three of their biggest offensive playmakers -- A.J. Green, Giovani Bernard and Tyler Eifert -- who all missed at least six games each. Second, I think that Andy Dalton is going to have the best skill players he's seen during his six-year career in Cincinnati.
If Cincy can overcome the loss of two starting offensive linemen, the Bengals could be the surprise team of 2017. That being said, I'm not ready to pick them to end their drought of no playoff wins. Maybe if I have a shot or two of tequila, I'll be ready to do that.