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Cincinnati Bengals 2020 Season in Review

Bengals 2020 Betting Record

Moneyline: 4-11-1

Point Spread: 9-7

Cincinnati Bengals 2020 Season NFL
Michael Hickey/Getty Images/AFP

Total: Over-Under: 7-8-1

After a 2-14 year in head Coach Zac Taylor’s first season in 2019, Cincinnati found itself with the first pick in the draft. The Bengals used their pick on LSU phenom quarterback Joe Burrow, who took the college football world by storm by leading the Tigers to a national title. The Bengals and longtime QB Andy Dalton parted ways in the offseason. Cincinnati was hoping its new franchise QB, in Burrow, would kick start its rebuild.

Burrow played in 10 games before tearing his ACL. It was an unfortunate end to what was turning into an impressive rookie season. He became the first rookie QB to throw for 400 yards, throw three touchdowns, and rush for one. Burrow finished the season with 2688 yards on a 65.4 percent completion percentage, 13 TDs and five interceptions. He wasn’t without his share of struggles, but his performance bodes well for the future.

The Bengals have work to do to build a team around him this offseason but he should be recovered and ready to play in Week 1 this season. The Bengals were a solid sports betting pick in 2020, as they covered the spread in nine of their 16 games. They certainly weren’t a good team at 4-11-1 straight up — and weren’t expected to be — but they did have a couple of impressive wins over the Titans and Steelers. They entered the season with a sportsbook season win total of 5½ and longshot NFL Betting odds of +20000 to win the Super Bowl.

First Quarter

Burrow’s NFL career started with a 16-13 loss against the Chargers, but he did manage to score a 23-yard rushing TD. The following week, Burrow flashed his potential against the Browns, throwing for 316 yards and his first three career passing TDs. In Week 3, the Bengals didn’t manage to win but they did force overtime and pick up a tie against the flailing Philadelphia Eagles. Wide receiver and 2020 second-round draft pick, Tee Higgins caught his first two NFL TDs in the 23-23 deadlock.

In Week 4, Burrow became the first rookie in NFL history to throw for 300 yards in three consecutive weeks. He completed 25 of 36 passes for 300 yards, a touchdown, and an interception in a winning effort. The Bengals defeated the Jaguars 33-25 marking their first win of the season and third straight ATS win. Cincinnati fought hard in its first four games and was starting to see some results.

Moneyline: 1-2-1

Point Spread: 3-1

Total: 2-2

Grade: B

Second Quarter

The Bengals had a tough stretch of schedule here. Their four opponents all finished the season 11-5 and made the AFC playoffs. Burrow came back down to earth a little bit in Week 5, as the Ravens destroyed Cincinnati, 27-3. Burrow managed just 183 yards and threw an interception as the Bengals turned the ball over three times.

Cincinnati led the Colts 24-7 in the second quarter in Week 6 but was outscored 24-0 for the remainder of the game. Despite the 31-27 loss, Higgins led all receivers with 125 yards and started to establish himself as one of the Bengals’ top weapons. Unfortunately, running back Joe Mixon injured his foot in the loss and would be out for the remainder of the year.  The Bengals defense struggled to contain the Colts and allowed Indy QB Philip Rivers to pass for 371 yards. During this four game stretch the Bengals managed just 3 sacks and putting pressure on opposing QBs proved to be challenging for this Cincinnati team.

Once again, the Bengals were in a prime position to win in Week 7. They took a 34-31 lead against the Browns with one minute remaining courtesy of a Gio Bernard TD catch from Burrow. But, Cincinnati allowed Baker Mayfield and the Browns to drive 65 yards down the field in under a minute to score and win the game. The Bengals were underdogs by more than a touchdown against the Titans in Week 8 but managed an impressive 31-20 win. Cincinnati was playing nearly every team closely and could have conceivably been 4-3-1 at this point. But, they weren’t consistent on either side of the ball, with the blown leads as a prime example.

Moneyline: 1-3

Point Spread: 3-1

Total: 3-1

Grade: B

Third Quarter

After the bye week, the Bengals were decimated by a Steelers team that improved to 9-0 with a 36-10 win. Things got worse in Week 11 as Joe Burrow tore his ACL and MCL in the loss against Washington and was out for the remainder of the season.

Backup QB Brandon Allen took over in Burrow’s absence. In the first two games without Burrow, both losses, Cincinnati managed to score just 24 total points.  In ten games with Burrow, the Bengals managed 349.1 yards per game but averaged just 175.5 in its first two without him. Plus, Burrow became just the fourth rookie in NFL history to throw for 300 yards in five games and he only needed 10 to do it. It was clear the offense was hurting without him.

Without Burrow developing and seeing NFL defenses every week, it became a lost Bengals season. But, there are a bunch of young players on the Bengals roster who certainly continued to develop and entrench themselves as future pieces on this team.

Moneyline: 0-4

Point Spread: 1-3

Total: 0-3-1

Grade: C

Fourth Quarter

After struggling for a few weeks, the Bengal’s offense managed to find a bit of success in the last few weeks of the season. The Bengals won two games in a row for the first time since 2018 as they defeated the Steelers and Texans in consecutive weeks. Against the Texans, the Bengals managed to total their most yards and points of the season in a 37-31 win.

Allen was excellent as he finished 29 of 37 for 371 yards and two touchdowns against the Texans. TE Drew Sample caught his first and only TD of the year to open the scoring despite putting together a decent year. Allen was playing his way into potentially locking up the backup role long-term. RB Samaje Perine had a breakout game against the Texans as well, with 95 yards and two rushing TDs, the most since his rookie season with Washington in 2017.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention S Jessie Bates, who earned second-team NFL honors in 2020. He finished the season with 109 tackles, three interceptions, and a forced fumble and was Pro Football Focus’s highest-rated NFL safety. WRs Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd totaled 908 and 841 receiving yards respectively and combined for 10 touchdown catches. Higgins ranked third among all rookie WRs in yards and TDs. Outside of Burrow, there are certainly other reasons to be excited about this football team going forward. Despite the results not always being there, they consistently played hard and should continue to improve in the coming years. They do, however, have the third-longest Super Bowl Odds for next season at +12500.

Moneyline: 2-2

Point Spread: 2-2

Total: 2-2

Grade: B

Divisional Record: 1-5

Conference Record: 4-8

Full Season Grade: B-

Looking Ahead to Next Season

Glaring Needs:

The Bengal’s offensive line certainly could use some work. The Bengals finished 29th in total yards, allowed the sixth-most sacks, and averaged just 4.1 yards per rush attempt. With WR A.J. Green presumably gone, the Bengals need to add more depth to a unit headlined by Higgins and Boyd. The pass rush could also be improved as Cincinnati averaged a league-worst 1.1 sacks per game.

Obvious Strengths:

There are no questions surrounding the Bengals QB situation which is a huge start. Burrow appears to be their guy and for good reason. Brandon Allen’s late-season play earned him a one-year contract to be their backup. The continuity at the QB position appears to be a good sign.

The tandem of Higgins and Boyd is an exciting prospect and should ensure that Burrow has two legitimate targets for as long as they’re with the team. Cincinnati dealt with a myriad of defensive injuries and changes last season. So the Bengals should be better on that side of the ball in 2021 after a lackluster year in 2020. They have decisions to make on eight-time Pro Bowler Geno Atkins and DE Carl Lawson in free agency. But, their safety duo of Bates and Vonn Bell is excellent.

Predicted Record for 2021 Season: 7-9

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