The Cincinnati Bengals were originally a member of the AFL, first playing in 1968. The Cincinnati Reds baseball team actually played an instrumental role in the decision to found the team there, as they were looking to build a new stadium and were able to work with the original owner, Paul Brown to share a new multi-purpose ballpark. They joined the NFL when the leagues merged in 1970. The play their home games at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati. It was built in 2000 to replace old Riverfront Stadium, their home since 1970.
The Bengals are two time AFC champions, reaching the Super Bowl in 1981 and 1988, both times losing to the San Fransisco 49ers. While they haven’t been back since, they have still been a relevant team throughout the years, with nine division titles and 14 total playoff appearances, most recently winning the AFC North in 2015. Both Super Bowl seasons saw their quarterback win the league MVP award, Ken Anderson in 1981 and Boomer Esiason in 1988.
Like all AFL teams post-merger, they were assigned to the newly created AFC and played in the Central division until the AFC North was created in 2002. It only took them a couple years to get their first division championship in the newly minted North, as Carson Palmer led them to an 11-5 season in 2005 only to see inner-division rival Pittsburgh beat them in the playoffs as a wildcard on the way to their fifth Super Bowl.
To this day, the team remains under the controlling ownership of the Brown family, being passed on from Paul Brown to his son Mike after his death in 1991. Mike Brown also fills the President and General Manager roles for the team’s operations.
Head Coach Zac Taylor will be entering his second year with Cincinnati. Taylor is a former college quarterback, having led the Nebraska Cornhuskers to a Big 12 title game berth in 2006. As a coach, he had previously spent time with the Rams, Dolphins, and the University of Cincinnati. Brian Callahan is the offensive coordinator, though Taylor does handle the play calling and Lou Anarumo runs the defense. Both coordinators, like Taylor, were given their current positions before the 2019 season.
Even with several MVPs and some highly successful seasons, Cincinnati only have a trio of former players enshrined in the Hall of Fame, with only one career-long Bengal. Though he may not have a lot of company, Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz is highly regarded throughout the football community. A top draft pick out of USC in 1980, he did not disappoint, finishing his career with 11 Pro Bowl appearances, nine All Pro seasons and is widely recognized as one of the greatest offensive linemen ever to lace them up.
The 2020 draft was an exciting one for Bengals fans, as they took record-breaking quarterback, Joe Burrow first overall out of LSU. He was one of two picks that went right from the College Football Playoff title game to Cincinnati, as the organization also added Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins with the 33rd pick.
Burrow and Higgins join a roster that only won 2 games last year, but fans can surely have some measure of hope with star wide receiver A.J. Green coming back from injury and a dangerous Joe Mixon coming out of the backfield. The defense will have some struggles, but the front four will be a group to be feared, with Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap to worry about for opposing quarterbacks
The market is treating the Bengals as they likely should; a team that lost 14 games last year. DraftKings sportsbook lists them at 150/1 to win the Lombardi trophy in 2020. They are 66/1 and 25/1 to win the AFC and the AFC North, respectively. Their win total is set at a meager 5.5 wins, with the over priced at -134, the under +110.
Cincinnati Bengals Betting Preview
The Cincinnati Bengals appeared to have new life heading into the 2019 season thanks to the departure of longtime head coach Marvin Lewis after the 2018 campaign.
The high hopes quickly disappeared and a new reality set in during Zac Taylor's first season in charge. The Bengals were bad. They were so bad they lost their first 11 games to put themselves in the lead for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. That’s exactly what they got after they finished with a 2-14 record.
Key offseason moves
For nine seasons, the Bengals floated along with Andy Dalton at quarterback. He wasn’t great, but with five consecutive playoff berths, it was hard to argue against turning the page to a less proven signal-caller. That relative magic ran out with four straight losing seasons, and the No. 1 overall pick presented a great chance to move in a different direction.
Enter Joe Burrow.
The LSU grad is from Ohio and played at nearby Ohio State before transferring to the SEC for his last two college seasons. He had one of the most prolific seasons in college football history last year, including 60 touchdown passes in 16 games, while leading the Tigers to the national title and winning the Heisman Trophy.
He’s tough. He can make plays off schedule. He can throw on the run. Most importantly, he can win. The Bengals long have been looking for a leader who can take them to the next level, and they’re betting high dollar that Burrow is the man for the job.
The Bengals got a bit of a bonus in the draft when Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins fell out of the first round. They scooped him up to give Burrow a potential long-term target on the outside and eventual replacement for A.J. Green.
Because Cincinnati has such high hopes for Burrow, the fact it did little to address the massive offensive line problem is perplexing. When left tackle Cordy Glenn returned from a lengthy concussion, the line’s performance improved but still was nowhere near good enough.
The Bengals will get back 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams, who missed all of last season with an injury, to take Glenn’s spot, but it’s going to take a lot more than that to get the unit up to a competitive level.
When a team finishes with the league’s worst record there are often many weaknesses, so perhaps the Bengals get a bit of a pass for focusing on a couple of those weaknesses rather than all of them. Maybe they just didn’t have enough resources to address everything at the same time.
They emphasized overhauling the defense more than anything and even got owner Mike Brown to open up his check for once and spend money in free agency.
They signed DT D.J. Reader for four years and $53 million. Lining him next to All-Pro Geno Atkins should make for a formidable duo.
They also signed CB Trae Waynes for three years and $42 million. He’ll likely step into a starting role following the departures of Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard.
Former New Orleans safety Vonn Bell signed a three-year contract worth $18 million with the Bengals, and he will provide hefty run support.
The Bengals added three linebackers in the draft, including third-round pick Logan Wilson from Wyoming.
Top 3 players
RB Joe Mixon: Mixon’s talent has never been in question, even when he fell to the second round of the 2017 draft due to an off-field incident while he was playing for the Oklahoma Sooners. He has done well in his first three seasons with the Bengals and was rewarded this week with a four-year contract extension. Whether Mixon can take the next step in his level of production likely depends on the performance of the offensive line. As previously stated, there is no reason to believe the Bengals will make major improvements there this season.
Mixon rushed for 1,137 yards and five touchdowns last season. He also caught 35 passes for 287 yards and three more touchdowns. DraftKings lists Mixon’s season total for rushing yards at 1,100.5. The web site also lists his rushing touchdowns at 6.5, and it’s juiced to the under.
WR A.J. Green: After missing all of the 2019 season with an ankle injury, the stud wide receiver returned to preseason camp this year fresh and ready to go. Unfortunately, he suffered a hamstring injury and has missed a couple weeks of practice. If the rest helps, his otherworldly talent should be on full display once the regular season begins, but he is missing valuable practice time with Burrow. The Bengals used the franchise tag on Green for this season so both the club and Green are determined to get the most out of him this year. If they do, it will be a major boost for Burrow during his rookie season.
DE Carlos Dunlap: As bad as the Bengals’ defense is, it does have a couple of stars. One of them is Dunlap - a veteran who keeps racking up the sack totals. He has 81.5 sacks in 10 seasons with the Bengals, including nine last year in 14 games. The addition of D.J. Reader on the interior should keep opposing offensive lines occupied, which could open up more rushing lanes for Dunlap.
Regular season win Total (5.5 at DraftKings and 5.5 at FanDuel)
Before last season, the Bengals had gone eight years in a row with at least six wins.
Odds to win Division (+2500 at DraftKings and +2600 at FanDuel)
Based on these preseason odds, the Bengals are even an afterthought to compete within the AFC North. The Browns are the next longest shot at +550 (DraftKings) and +480 (FanDuel).
Odds to Win Super Bowl (+15,000 at DraftKings and +17,000 at FanDuel)
Only Jacksonville has longer odds to win the Super Bowl. The Bengals, who have not won a playoff game since 1990, are tied with Washington for the second-longest odds.
Drafting a franchise quarterback was a fantastic start, but the Bengals had way more problems the last few seasons than the player who was throwing the passes. They took some good steps by signing free agents on defense, but the offensive line still needs a lot of work.
Burrow will start from day one, and there will be excitement because of that. The truth is, however, the Bengals need to use the 2020 seasons to develop more players who can help them in the future when they finally reach the level they’re ready to win.
If everything comes together, winning six games and going over their season win total is possible. Don’t expect much more than that.