The Cincinnati Bengals are reeling after a blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints, but are they still a playoff team?
The Cincinnati Bengals started this season 4-1, but after Sunday’s embarrassing 51-14 blowout loss at home to the New Orleans Saints they now sit at 5-4. Things were so bad Sunday that backup quarterback Jeff Driskel finished the game in place of Andy Dalton.
Cincinnati has looked especially bad in their last two losses, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs 45-10 back in Week 7 before Sunday’s even bigger loss. If not for Jameis Winston’s four interceptions in Week 8, the Bengals would have a four-game losing streak and they’d be below .500.
The Bengals are still in the playoff mix, but they obviously have to start putting marks in the win column. Better performance from a struggling defense is the first step of that, as wide receiver A.J. Green (foot) is in line to miss a few more games.
Let’s say it’ll take 10 wins to earn a Wild Card spot in the AFC, or at least be in the mix before including tie-breakers. So can the Bengals win five games and get it done? Let’s look at what’s left on the schedule.
Week 11- at Baltimore Ravens
Week 12-vs. Cleveland Browns
Week 13-vs. Denver Broncos
Week 14-at Los Angeles Chargers
Week 15-vs. Oakland Raiders
Week 16-at Cleveland Browns
Week 17-at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Ravens are reeling themselves, with a three-game losing streak going into the Week 10 bye and quarterback Joe Flacco dealing with a hip injury that may start the Lamar Jackson era. The Browns (3-6-1), Broncos (3-6) and the Raiders (1-7) have losing records, and they account for four of Cincinnati’s remaining games. The Steelers may have nothing to play for themselves come Week 17, but if a win means spoiling the Bengals’ playoff hopes resting guys could be set aside.
No matter how bad the Bengals have been or will be, the Broncos and Raiders game are easy marks in the win column. A split with the Browns might be fine, but a sweep would be ideal. That would leave beating one of the Ravens, Chargers or Steelers, on the road, to get to 10 victories. Among that trio, next week’s game against Baltimore stands out as the most winnable.
A better assessment can come next Sunday at this time, after the Ravens game. But right now, the Bengals have no better than a 50-50 chance to make the playoffs–and save Marvin Lewis’ job?