10-6 (7-9 ATS), 1st Place AFC North in 2009
Once again, the question in 2010 in the AFC North is going to be, "Who dey gonna stop dem Bengals?" Last year, the only team that could seemingly stop this club was the New York Jets, who not only destroyed Cincy on the final day of the regular season, but also took it out of the playoffs in the first round as well as the #6 seed in the AFC. The Bengals were never really a team that anyone bought into last season, and even though HC Marvin Lewis preserved his job for another season, we aren't so sure that this team was anything more than smoke and mirrors last year. It could be a long 2010 campaign.
2010 Draft: It's been awhile since the Bengals really had a pass catching tight end that could stretch the middle of the field and put pressure on safeties. That's exactly what they picked up in this year's draft by selecting Oklahoma Sooners TE Jermaine Grisham at #21 overall. WR Jordan Shipley should be an excellent slot receiving option in the mold of Anthony Gonzalez in Indianapolis. The second round selection of DE Carlos Dunlap adds to yet another in the long list of questionable characters that will take the field in Cincinnati.
Offensive Outlook: Something clearly was wrong last year with QB Carson Palmer. Once upon a time, the USC product threw for 4,000+ yards every year, was in the Pro Bowl every year, and was considered one of the elite quarterbacks in the league. Last season however, he struggled just to reach 3,000 yards, and often found himself subjected to just turning around and handing the ball off in situations that he would normally be trusted. This frustrated the heck out of WR Chad Ochocinco, who only had 1,047 receiving yards and nine scores in 2009, and resulted in the team ranking 26th in the NFL in passing at just 180.6 yards per game. RB Cedric Benson had a great season, rushing for 1,251 yards, but his off the field issues have kicked up yet again, and depending on how his recent assault allegations shake out, he could be suspended (or worse) by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Defensive Outlook: DC Mike Zimmer should be commended for his fantastic work with this defense in 2009. The Bengals ranked fourth in the NFL in total defense at 301.4 yards per game, and they finished up the year allowing just 18.2 points per game. No, the unit still probably isn't as feared as New York's, Pittsburgh's, or Baltimore's defenses, but without a shadow of a doubt, this is a unit that can do its job. Keep a close eye on DB Leon Hall, who led the team in picks last year with six. He is quietly rounding into one of the better cover corners in the game, and Zimmer will be the first to tell you that he could be a real difference maker for this team in 2010.
2010 Betting Outlook: It's a bit surprising that the Bengals finished just 7-9 ATS in a year in which they won the division quite unexpectedly. We can't help but wonder if the exact inverse is going to happen this year. Cincinnati isn't getting a whole heck of a lot of respect from the oddsmakers in spite of the fact that it is the defending champ in the AFC North, and a difficult schedule should set up plenty of short underdog situations. If the Bengals can find ways to beat the best teams, they should have a great year for NFL betting aficionados.
All Odds for 2010 NFL betting season can be found at Bookmaker Sportsbook. Cincinnati Bengals Predictions: 7-9, 3rd Place in AFC North 2010 Cincinnati Bengals Schedule
Cincinnati Bengals Odds To Win AFC North: +320
Cincinnati Bengals Odds To Win AFC: +1600
Cincinnati Bengals Odds To Win Super Bowl XLV: +3400
Cincinnati Bengals Regular Season Win Total: 7.5 over -150
Is this simply a case of no respect for the Bengals, or are the oddsmakers on to something with this low win total? Just take a look at the first four games of the year. Three are on the road and the fourth is hosting Baltimore. Yikes! Throw in the mix trips to Indianapolis and New York, as well as home dates with San Diego and New Orleans, and the Bengals are going to be strapped to try to find eight wins on this slate. We deem it to be a possibility, but when push really comes to shove, unless Palmer really gets back into his groove and the offense starts to hum, this is probably no better than a six or a seven win team.
Week 1 - Away @ Patriots
Week 2 - Home vs. Ravens
Week 3 - Away @ Panthers
Week 4 - Away @ Browns
Week 5 - Home vs. Buccaneers
Week 6 - Bye
Week 7 - Away @ Falcons
Week 8 - Home vs. Dolphins
Week 9 - Home vs. Steelers
Week 10 - Away @ Colts
Week 11 - Home vs. Bills
Week 12 - Away @ Jets
Week 13 - Home vs. Saints
Week 14 - Away @ Steelers
Week 15 - Home vs. Browns
Week 16 - Home vs. Chargers
Week 17 - Away @ Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals Predictions: 7-9, 3rd Place in AFC North
2010 Cincinnati Bengals Schedule