Tank for Tua: Why the Cincinnati Bengals Could Land Tagovailoa Ahead of Miami

Throughout the first half of the NFL season, much was made of the Miami Dolphins' dismal record and more or less concealed efforts to land the first overall pick of the 2020 draft.

The Dolphins traded some of their more experienced players and their hopes of landing number one pick in next year's draft—and with it, in all likelihood, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa—have been one of the NFL's worst kept secrets.

Miami could find itself 0-7 if it loses on the road to Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football, but its plans could be scuppered by the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals racked up an eighth consecutive defeat on Sunday, losing 24-10 in London to the Los Angeles Rams to equal their worst start since 2008.

Back then, Cincinnati mustered a rally of sorts in the second half of the campaign to finish 4-11-1, but based on their showing in the first half of the season it's hard to imagine the Bengals winning one game, let alone four.

In fact, it is not beyond the realms of possibilities to see Zac Taylor's team extend its losing streak to 10 games, which would equal the franchise's worst-ever record.

Cincinnati went 0-10 in 1993, a season which epitomized a 10-year spell Bengals fans have come to refer to as "The Lost Decade".

Over those 10 years, the franchise finished with a combined 52-108 record and in six of those seasons the number in the loss column was in double digit.

The Bengals have a bye in Week 9, before hosting the Baltimore Ravens and then taking on the Oakland Raiders on the road.

The Ravens, who have a bye in Week 8, are 5-2, while the Raiders are 3-3 ahead of their road game against Houston on Sunday afternoon. Both are firmly in the hunt for a playoff spot and both should have too much for a Bengals team that has repeatedly come up short this season.

Taylor has already become only the only third head coach in the franchise's history to start his tenure with a 0-5 record.

Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals take to the field during the NFL game between Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams at Wembley Stadium on October 27 in London, England. Alex Davidson/Getty

With no significant roster upgrades in the offseason, he was dealt a difficult hand to play in his first job as head coach. The 36-year-old worked wonders with Jared Goff as the Rams' quarterback coach last season but has found life much harder in Ohio.

Coming into Week 8, the Bengals had the sixth-worst offense in the NFL in terms of points scored and yards per game, while their defense ranked sixth-worst in the league in terms of points allowed per game and dead last in terms of yards allowed per game.

Equalling the worst-ever start in franchise history would put the Bengals on course for a much more unwanted record, as they could join the Cleveland Browns, the Detroit Lions and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the only franchises to lose every regular season game in the post-merger era.

The Bucs went 0-14 in 1976—their debut season in the NFL—and then lost the first 12 games of the following campaign to mark a truly forgettable start to their life in pro football.

They were outscored by an average of 20.4 points per game in the process, the widest margin in NFL's history.

By comparison, the Bengals have lost games by an average of just 10.4 points this season—they have lost by a single-digit gap to the Seahawks, Bills, Cardinals and Ravens.

The Lions, meanwhile, were the first NFL franchise to claim the unwanted record of going 0-16 after losing every game in 2008 and were emulated by the Browns nine years later—Cleveland had one 1-15 the previous season.

The Bengals will face the Browns twice down the stretch this season, with home games against the Steelers, Jets and Patriots also on the schedule.

The home game against the Jets is Cincinnati's best chance of securing a win, along with the Week 16 matchup against the Dolphins in Miami.

Both teams could feasibly arrive into that game needing a win to avoid the prospect of finishing winless for the season, but also knowing that a win could scupper plans of securing the first overall pick.

Landing Tagovailoa—or LSU's Joe Burrow or whoever will be the first player chosen in the draft—would be a major coup for both franchises, although that on its own would by no means be enough to turn the Dolphins and Bengals' fortunes around.

History, however, shows all is not lost for Cincinnati. The Rams, their opponent in London on Sunday, went 1-15 in 2009 and a decade later they played in a Super Bowl.


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