Cincinnati Bengals 2014 Season Preview

Cincinnati Bengals 2013 Statistics

2013 season record: 11-5

Offense: Ranked 10th in NFL in 2013 season averaging 368.2 yards per game

Scoring offense: Tied for sixth in NFL during 2013 season averaging 26.9 points per game

Defense: Ranked third in NFL during 2013 season allowing 305.5 yards allowed per game

Scoring defense: Tied for sixth in NFL during 2013 season averaging 19.1 points allowed per game

The Bengals open the 2014 NFL season as the defending AFC North champions as the team has made the playoffs three years in a row which is the first time in Bengals franchise history. With all of that the Bengals still seem like they have pressure weighing on their shoulders. The Bengals are should feel that pressure. The team hasn't won a playoff game in over 20 years.

How is life at the quarterback position for the Bengals?

Despite the disappointment in the postseason over the years, the Bengals and their fans should have a lot of things to be excited about. Quarterback Andy Dalton signed a contract extension with the team in August which is a cap friendly deal at the moment over six years worth $115 million which is counting playoff escalators if Dalton improves in the postseason.

Dalton has been a pretty solid quarterback when it comes to playing in the regular season. Dalton in his three-year career has 80 touchdowns and 49 interceptions with a quarterback rating of 85.7 in the process. Solid numbers.

In the playoffs, Dalton has one touchdown and six interceptions in three playoff games with a passer rating of 56.2 as well. The 2014 season will tell a lot about Dalton going forward. One way or another, the Bengals will find their answer about Dalton sooner rather than later.

How can the Bengals stay on track on offense?

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is one of the elite receivers in the NFL at the moment with his size and speed being a weekly problem for opposing secondaries over the course of a season.

Green in his first-three years in the NFL is averaging 86 receptions for 1,277 receiving yards and a little bit above 9 touchdowns a season.

Green is a game wrecker. Green has the capability of taking over a game at any moment. Sometimes it could be argued that Green doesn't see the ball enough despite the fact that he had 98 receptions during the 2013 regular season.

Whether screen passes or slant patterns are involved, Green needs to see his touches constantly. With new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson taking over for Jay Gruden who left for the head coaching position with the Washington Redskins, it would be best for the Bengals to keep it simple over the first-couple of games so that Jackson can get more comfortable with the play calling duties.

Another player who should see more action on offense is running back Giovani Bernard. Bernard might be the quickest running back in the game right now. Very few players in the game can turn a play that looks like a three yard gain and turn it into 20 yards in a flash.The Bengals seem to agree as they cut veteran running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis in late August to make Bernard the featured running back.

Between Green and Bernard, the Bengals might have the most dynamic wide receiver-running back duo in the league.

Is Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis on the hot seat?

With Lewis, it is very hard to get a good sense of whether he is on the hot seat or not. Lewis since becoming the Bengals head coach in 2003, hasn't won a playoff game in his time with the franchise. Lewis is 0-5 all-time in the playoffs as a head coach with the Bengals. If Lewis can't get it done this year, he will probably remain the head coach which is funny in a way. Bengals owner Mike Brown likes continuity almost to a fault. Many believed Lewis would have been fired last season after the AFC Wild Card loss to the San Diego Chargers.

Lewis might be the luckiest head coach in NFL and possibly in all of sports.

Which unit leads the Bengals? Offense or Defense?

Even though the Bengals have flashy players on offense, their defense will be the deciding factor on how for the team goes over the course of the season. With a top three defensive lineman in the game in Geno Atkins and one of the underrated linebackers in the game with Vontaze Burfict, the Bengals have an identity on defense which is needed in the AFC North when looking at defensive-minded teams like the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Bengals go as their defense goes for the most part. When the Bengals have to go up against teams like the New England Patriots with Tom Brady and the Denver Broncos with Peyton Manning in the AFC, Dalton isn't going to out duel Brady and Manning. At least not yet. The defense will shoulder the majority of the load when it matters most.

What is the outlook for the Bengals this season?

The Bengals are a good team for sure. However, their schedule is pretty tough. Not only do the Bengals face the Ravens and Steelers in their own division, they also go up against the Broncos, Patriots and the New Orleans Saints as well. Not easy.

As long as Dalton takes care of the football and the defense stays efficient, there is no reason why the Bengals shouldn't enter the postseason barring injury.