Nov 23, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) stiff arms against Houston Texans safety Daniel Manning (38) at NRG Stadium. The Bengals beat the Texans 22-19. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Just before the 2014 NFL season began, we made some predictions about what the Cincinnati Bengals were likely to do on a game-by-game basis, and then we updated our picks at the quarter-pole and halfway points of the season. On the whole, the Bengals have shaped up to be about what we thought they were, wrapping up their first twelve games with an 8-3-1 record.
What we didn’t anticipate was just how streaky the team would be, or how banged up they would be. From week to week, nothing is guaranteed with these Bengals.
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One unpredictable development that has been for the good is the emergence of rookie running back Jeremy Hill. Hill stepped in when starter Giovani Bernard went down with hip and clavicle injuries, and the Bengals didn’t miss a beat. In fact, Hill has posted a couple of games that were arguably better than any Bernard has put together.
With the benefit of twelve games’ worth of experience, here are our updated predictions for the remaining four games on the Bengals’ 2014 regular-season schedule:
Week 14 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: These Steelers games have loomed all season long, and I’ve oscillated on how I think they’re going to go. Both teams are nearly impossible to read consistently, but you know they’ll be slugging it out for all they’re worth to see who goes to the playoffs and who goes home. I’ll take the Bengals here this time around. Win
Week 15 at Cleveland Browns: The Browns had a nice run in the middle of the season, but they’re just not ready for the big time, especially with an unsettled quarterback situatoin. Win
Week 16 vs. Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning will carry the day as the Broncos wrap up another playoff-bound season. Loss
Week 17 at Pittsburgh Steelers: I’m going chalk with the Bengals v. Steelers, picking the home team across the board. This should be a doozy to wrap up the regular season, though. Loss
The Bengals looked pretty shaky in the middle of the season, and they’re probably still going to lose a couple more games, but that would leave them at 10-5-1 and holding another AFC North division title. You never know with this team, though, and they could win all of their remaining games — or lose them all.