With Healthy QB Bengals Still Have Tall Task
Take away season-ending injuries to franchise quarterback Joe Burrow and running back Joe Mixon and the Cincinnati Bengals’ 2020 season was still somewhat of a roller-coaster of a ride.
The season started with a missed chip-shot of a field goal against the Los Angeles Chargers which would have sent the game into overtime. Two weeks later, the Bengals game with Philadelphia ended in a tie.
Burrow and the Bengals broke through into the win column with a NFL Week 4 win over lowly Jacksonville before three straight losses and also the season-ending injury to Mixon.
Cincinnati bounced back with an impressive win vs. Tennessee before dropping the next five and also losing Burrow.
Cincinnati finished the season with a 4-11-1 record and also picked up a win over Pittsburg late in the season.
With Burrow on the mend and his favorite target from LSU being drafted in the first round, brighter days are on the horizon in Cincinnati. But how long will fans have to wait through the rain and the clouds?
According to Bet Us — one of the top sportsbooks at onlinebettingsports.com — the Bengals are projected to finish last in the AFC North with an over/under win total set at 6.5. Reaching the win total — odds to hit the over at -110 and under at -120 — would be an improvement from last season, but can the fans in Cincinnati be patient enough to see the process through?
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Can Bengals win with shootouts?
Seven times last season the Cincinnati defense allowed 30-plus points in a game. The Bengals finished 1-6 in those games with the lone win coming in NFL Week 16 against a disinterested Houston team.
When all was said and done, the Bengals finished 26th in total defense while allowing 389 yards and 26.5 points per contest.
With Burrow back under center and a highly talented trio of wide receivers in Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and the rookie Ja’Marr Chase, the Bengals should not have much of a problem putting points on the board, not to mention the return of Mixon in the backfield.
But with all the talent at the skill positions, it won’t matter if Burrow is not protected and the back do not have holes to run through.
That should not be too much of a problem this year as the organization made it a point of emphasis to revamp the offensive line.
Cincinnati opens with two games against the NFC North by hosting Minnesota in the opener before traveling to Chicago in NFL Week 2.
Bovada — another top sportsbooks at onlinebettingsports.com — has the Bengals as a 3-point dog at home in Week 1 with +105 odds to cover. For those with faith that Cincinnati can pull off the mild upset, the Bengals are getting +145 odds on the money line.
In NFL Week 2, the Bengals face a team with a quarterback controversy, but the Bears’ defense could make things difficult for Burrow and company.
After traveling to North rival Pittsburgh in NFL Week 3, the Bengals get the Jags at home in a short week (Thursday).
NFL Week 5 is a matchup with future Hall-of-Famer Aaron Rodgers and the Packers before finishing up their slate against the NFC North by hitting the road to Detroit in NFL Week 6.
Other key matchups that could find the win column are: at New York Jets (Week 8), at Las Vegas (Week 11), vs. Los Angeles Chargers (Week 13) and at Denver (Week 15).
If you are not sold on the number of wins the Bengals will achieve this season, betting on Joe Burrow may be a better option. The second-year signal caller has the second shortest odds at winning NFL Comeback Player of the Year at +500 odds.
Dallas’ Dak Prescott is the heavy favorite at +145, according to Bet Us.
But with all the weapons Burrow has in Cincinnati (Prescott has just as good of weapons, btw), the second-year pro could have a big bounce back season.
If Cincinnati is going to hit the win total of 6.5 set by Bet Us, they will need to take care of business early. The final three games will be a tough road to hoe by hosting Baltimore and Kansas City in NFL Week 16 and 17 before traveling to Cleveland in the regular season finale. The Bengals could receive a break if Kansas City has nothing to play for in NFL Week 17, but that may be a little too early to rest starters.
Cincinnati 2021 Record Prediction: 6-11, Fourth in AFC North