The 2013 NFL season has been, well, strange to this point. Of all the teams in the league, the Bengals have been among the most confusing teams. After losing a thriller to the Bears in week one, the Bengals handled the Steelers relatively easily and narrowly topped the Packers in week three. Then, last weekend, the Browns, a team most had left for dead after week two, shut down the Bengals’ offense.
All said, the Bengals are .500 after four weeks, and they are this year’s hit or miss team. One week, the Bengals are one of the best teams in the league. The following week, the Bengals are awful. So, what’s wrong with the Cincinnati Bengals?
Andy Dalton has been anything but spectacular. With just five touchdowns to four interceptions, Dalton hasn’t been nearly as good as he needs to be to propel the Bengals into the playoffs.
Last year, the Bengals snuck into the playoffs on the back of solid offensive performances and great defense. This year, that defense has been less than stellar, and the Bengals’ offensive production is middle of the road at best.
With the Bengals stalling after an offseason in which we saw their expectations skyrocket, the next logical question is simple. Where do they go from here?
Unfortunately, there is never an easy answer to such a question. The Bengals’ offense begins and ends with Andy Dalton, so regardless of any other adjustments the Bengals make, they have to figure out a way to get Dalton back on track.
This is where Cincinnati’s defense has to come up big. When the Bengals fall behind early, more pressure is added to their offense in the first half. Again, there’s no easy way to improve the Bengals’ offensive production, but allowing them to operate at their own tempo would likely help some of their other problems work themselves out.
In the AFC North, all four teams are still in the divisional race, even the Steelers. Because of this weak competition, the Bengals have the opportunity to work out their problems before making an end of the season playoff run. That’s likely what head coach Marvin Lewis is banking on, but if they wait too long, the Ravens or Browns may be able to pull ahead in the divisional race.