The Cincinnati Bengals are entering week 17 as they prepare to take on the Cleveland Browns. With every game of the season, there will be things to watch and focus on. Here are five things to watch for in week 17.
1. Can Zac Taylor Get His First Division Win?
The Bengals have just one win on the season, which came over the New York Jets. Zac Taylor still hasn’t won a game over a division rival. That could all change this weekend against the Browns. The Bengals have played teams close when they protect the ball.
Cincinnati will host the Browns this weekend. They are eliminated from playoff contention and have had a few outbursts on the sideline this year. If there was ever a time for the Bengals to win a game again this season, it is week 17.
There are a few milestones that can be hit by the Bengals this Sunday. Milestones are some of the only good things to look at for this team now. Tyler Boyd has 987 receiving yards and will likely reach 1,000 on the season. Joe Mixon has 975 rushing yards and should be able to get to 1,000 on the season.
On the defensive side of the ball, Carlos Dunlap has a chance to get his 80th career sack. That would move him up the all-time sacks list and into the top 75. With one more sack, Geno Atkins will be tied for 80th on the all-time list.
3. John Ross
John Ross played in four games before being injured. He returned in week 14, but only really had an impact in the game against the Dolphins. In an injury-plagued and disappointing career so far, it is important to see if the Bengals can salvage anything out of Ross.
Against the Dolphins, Ross had six catches for 84 yards. It was his best performance since week 2. The young receiver was actually one of the better receivers through two weeks of the season, but his production has been inconsistent throughout his career. If he can have another good game before heading into the offseason, it could be encouraging for next season.
4. The Secondary
The secondary had an awful performance against the Dolphins this week. Ryan Fitzpatrick looked like a top 10 quarterback and the Dolphins put up 38 points. For the Bengals, they need to start evaluating who they will keep around in the future and who will be gone.
William Jackson has been solid in his career, but has had some down moments this season, including giving up a big play to DeVante Parker last week. B.W. Webb is far from a long-term solution, while Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kilpatrick have been inconsistent their whole career. Shawne Williams and Jesse Bates haven’t played exceptionally great at safety either. For those that want to be around next season, they need to put a good game on tape.
5. Andy Dalton
With being benched and a lot of frustration with fans wanting the number one draft pick, Andy Dalton has had a bad season. It looks like he will now be playing his last game in a Bengals’ uniform, as they look to improve the position through the draft.
Whether fans like him or hate him, the day should be celebrated. Fans that appreciate his time served for the Bengals can see him one last time. Others who don’t like him can get excited about the future of the team, assuming they take Joe Burrow with the first overall pick.