The Bengals still have one win this season. They lost to the Patriots and now the Bengals have to try to move forward with a 1-13 record. Here are five things learned from week 15.
1. It was a tale of two halves
In the first half, the Bengals played the Patriots close, but the second half did not go the same way. The Bengals ran the ball well and played solid defense in the first half. Joe Mixon had one of his best games of the season and Tom Brady was constantly pressured.
After halftime, the game was completely different. The Patriots made better second half adjustments and were able to run away with the game. It was 13-10 at halftime and New England extended their lead to 34-13 to finish the game. Their excellent defense did most of the work, as Brady had just 128 passing yards and 175 rushing yards on the day.
2. When Andy Dalton is a Game Manager the Team is Better
As mentioned, the first half and second half of this game were very different and a lot of that has to do with Andy Dalton. When the game opened up, Dalton protected the football and the Bengals were able to keep things close. Everything fell apart in the second half.
Dalton threw four second-half interceptions, which effectively ended any chances of the Bengals’ winning. As with most of Dalton’s career, he doesn’t need to throw for 400 yards every game, he just needs to make smart decisions with the football to make this team competitive.
3. The Running Game is Much Improved
The running game has been mentioned in these articles a lot. To begin the year, the running game was bad. Mixon had no running room and the team rarely got 100 yards on the ground. The back half of the season though things have changed for the better, as they have several 100-yard rushing games now.
Against the great Patriots’ defense, Mixon rushed for 136 yards on 5.4 yards per carry. A lot of the damage was done in the first half because the Bengals were trailing in the second half. Either way, the running game can be even better next season once the offensive line is fully healthy.
4. Germaine Pratt Led the Team in Tackles Again
Another player who has stepped his game up in the second half of the season is Germaine Pratt. He has been getting regular playing time since the Bengals cut Preston Brown. Pratt has some deficiencies, but he has led the team in tackles a few times already.
In this game, Pratt finished with nine total tackles. For a player that started his college career as a safety, Pratt is starting to show he is learning the position at a decent level. For the future of the team, Pratt will need to continue to develop.
5. One More Loss Secures the First Pick
While the Bengals haven’t admitted to tanking, an important part of the rebuild is getting high draft picks. With the loss to the Patriots, the Bengals now just have to lose one more game to secure the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Their last two games are against the Dolphins and the Browns.
With the first overall pick, the Bengals will likely pick a franchise quarterback in Joe Burrow. Burrow just won the Heisman Trophy and has led his team to the College Football Playoff. He seems like he will fit in nicely to Zac Taylor’s system, so the Bengals should be able to build around him.