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Can the Bengals Make the Playoffs in 2024?


Figure 1 The Bengals had become a regular playoff team before last season
It was not that long ago that the Cincinnati Bengals were the surprise team of the year and promising to be one of the contenders for the next few years. An exciting young quarterback had led the team to the Super Bowl and all was looking rosy for an organization that had struggled in the last few decades.

By making it to the 2022 AFC Championship game, the Bengals showed that reaching the Super Bowl a year previously was no fluke. But it has gone downhill from there. A tough division hasn’t helped but a 9-8 record this year meant there was no postseason activity and not many people considering Cincinnati when they visit the best site for sports betting.

So, what has gone wrong? And what needs to happen for the Bengals over the offseason to ensure that the team is competitive next season? Not all of the team’s woes have been of its own making but Zac Taylor now has his work cut out to lead Cincinnati to the playoffs in 2024.

Reclaim an Identity

As with many of the factors that resulted in the Bengals not making the playoffs last season, the absence of Joe Burrow for the run-in played a major part. Cincinnati definitely had an identity before his injury. An aggressively offensive team that used the shotgun to rely on passing to victory.

Once Burrow was sidelined, criticisms started coming in from fans and the media about a perceived lack of identity. That is something that can be reclaimed – but it will take work. The Bengals used to step onto the field believing that they were better than their opponents. That kind of identity needs to return.

Bring in a Tight End

With a pass-heavy team like the Cincinnati Bengals, it is obvious that the wide receivers are going to be some of the busiest players on the field. Joe Burrow’s incredible arm means that even unbelievable passes can be made and it is a tactic that has been successfully used since he joined the big league.

But bringing in another tight end would add another aspect to an already devastating offense. But, more importantly, the Bengals should find a TE that is able to block as well as catch a ball. It would tweak the way Burrow plays a little but could add another weapon to the team’s arsenal.

Successful Draft

Only just missing out on the playoffs brings its own problems when it comes to recruiting for the upcoming season. Draft positions mean that there needs to be some detailed research done on players that might still be available when it comes to the 18th pick in the first round.

With QBs the prize catch in this year’s draft, missing out on the top spots is not a real problem for the Bengals thanks to them already having Joe Burrow. But, with the need for an OT and a DT, Cincinnati will be anxiously waiting for its turn to come around and hope that the prized assets don’t go elsewhere.

Work on Defense

As much as a misfiring offense was a major part of the problem for Cincinnati in 2023, there is a feeling that that will be easily rectified with the return of Burrow at the beginning of next season. Hopefully, that will allow the coaches to work on some of the problems on the other side of the ball.

Bringing in a good DT in the draft would be a start. But there needs to be some more recruiting and trading done across the entire defensive team. The secondary looked particularly weak at times in the regular season and scoring enough points without your starting star QB is going to be difficult enough without giving away too many points at the same time.

Keep Joe Burrow Happy

This should be a relatively easy one to get right. To be fair, the Bengals have already made moves to keep Joe onside. Making Dan Pitcher the new offensive coordinator works for everyone and has already got the Joe seal of approval. The two have been working together ever since Burrow came into the league and good things are now promised from an even closer relationship.

With Brian Callahan leaving for the Titans, there might have been some concern about his replacement. But Pitcher is the natural successor, now looking forward to his ninth season with the organization and a proven track record in helping Burrow to record such amazing passing numbers.

Figure 2 The fans at the Paycor Stadium will be looking forward to the return of Joe Burrow
Tough Schedule

If Joe Burrow can stay happy and healthy, the Bengals would seem to have few issues returning to the postseason. But a tough schedule could really work against the team. First of all, the AFC North has now turned into one of the toughest divisions in the league. But other opponents for 2024 stand in Cincinnati’s way too.

The teams from the AFC West are no pushover – and include the current champions, of course – while the interconference opponents will be from the NFC East. Dallas and Philly are two of the best in the entire conference, while even the Commanders and the Giants can cause an upset on their day.

Playoffs or Bust?

The situation is not so dire at the Bengals that heads will roll if they don’t make the playoffs for a second consecutive season. You don’t have to be too old a fan to remember when missing out on the postseason was a very regular occurrence. But a player of Joe Burrow’s ability missing out on the chance of winning a Super Bowl would be a huge disappointment.

If Joe can keep fit and healthy, there is no reason why Cincinnati should not be the ones battling Baltimore for the divisional title. From there, it really is down to who else makes the playoffs as to how far the Bengals can go. The playoffs are definitely attainable but it will be a tough regular season for the team in 2024.