Tyler Eifert Injury Could Hurt Bengals’ 2016 Playoff Odds
The Cincinnati Bengals were a surprise Super Bowl contender for much of the 2015 NFL season. Then came a broken thumb for MVP candidate Andy Dalton and it was really down hill from there.
The Bengals held on to win the AFC North and reach the playoffs, but the had a melt down right away with their star quarterback on the sidelines and the Marvin Lewis era remained without a post-season victory.
Getting that first playoff win continues to get more difficult for the cats, as they are now slated to enter the 2016 NFL season without a slew of offensive stars from a year ago.
Wide receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu already bolted in free agency, leaving Dalton and co. somewhat short-handed in the passing game. Brilliant offensive coordinator Hue Jackson left to man the Cleveland Browns, as well.
Just like that, an unstoppable offense petered out and could be limping into 2016 at far less than full strength.
Down Goes Eifert
Add tight end Tyler Eifert to the list of things for Bengals fans to worry about.
Per reports, the star tight end will undergo surgery on his ankle to repair an injury he suffered during this past season’s Pro Bowl. Initially hoping to rehab without going under the knife, Eifert is just now learning he could miss the “first couple of games” to start the 2016 season.
Bengals TE Tyler Eifert is undergoing ankle surgery today and, according to a source, “could miss the first couple of games of the season.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 25, 2016
This is problematic for two reasons: first because Eifert has dealt with injuries for his entire career and could easily struggle to return to form with this ankle issue. Assuming all goes according to plan, Eifert could still miss more than a “couple” of games.
Lower leg ailments almost never go according to plan, which could mean a slow start for Eifert, either in the way of actually seeing the field or performing at a high level. There is also a greater chance for re-injury if he rushes back too soon.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 25, 2016
It’s also a huge blow on the surface, as Eifert is now the third big weapon that will be gone from Dalton’s arsenal to start the season. Eifert is a massive, reliable target, both as a chain-mover on the outside and in the middle of the field and a huge catch radius guy in the red-zone. Even if Eifert is only gone for two games, the Bengals could struggle offensively and lose the first two weeks, then struggle with chemistry from that point on.
Bengals 2016 Odds
This isn’t a death sentence for the Bengals, but it’s tough to spin it in a positive way. Ideally, Cincy would have figured out Eifert needed surgery immediately after the Pro Bowl and this wouldn’t even become an issue. Instead, they’d have their stud tight end, who broke out last year with 13 touchdowns, healthy in time for week one.
That may not be the case and for however long he’s out, Dalton will be stuck without another big, reliable target. That could put a lot of pressure on Dalton, the new offensive coordinator, new wide receiver Brandon LaFell, the running game and of course, A.J. Green.
The Bengals currently boast +1800 odds to win the Super Bowl, +800 odds to get to the Super Bowl, +175 odds to win the AFC North and have 9.5 wins over/under.
Cincinnati already is no lock to win or make it to the league’s title game, but after a strong first half last year, they’re in the mix. The absence of Eifert for any length of time negatively impacts the offense, and in turn can’t help the Bengal’s chances.
The same goes for their shot at the division, which currently projects to boil down between them and the Steelers.
For now, the only thing we can really worry about is Eifert’s return time table, however. Currently slated to miss about two games, that could put the Bengals without their second best passing game weapon for weeks one and two, when they’ll be on the road against tough opponents in the New York Jets and the hated Steelers.
The Bengals already have it bad enough with two tough road games to start the year, one against a stingy defense and the other against an arch rival that can put up a lot of points.
A slow start isn’t something that can definitely afford, either, as week three brings the defending champion Broncos to Ohio and week four is a home date with a respectable Miami team. The Cowboys and Patriots follow in two more road dates.
— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) May 25, 2016
Just like that, the Bengals could quite easily get off to a horrible 0-6 start if they don’t play their cards right. An awful start like that isn’t overly realistic, but we could already be getting warning signs that the Bengals may not be the intriguing bet we thought they were.
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