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Bengals or Bungles?

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The season hasn't even begun, but already two big Las Vegas hotel properties probably are going to lose on their NFL regular-season win totals.

The Cantor and MGM properties opened the Cincinnati Bengals' win total at 7 and 7 1/2, respectively.

Currently the Bengals' consensus number is 5 1/2 victories - and that still may be generous as this is shaping up to be a disastrous year for Cincinnati.

Quarterback Carson Palmer would rather retire than play for the Bengals. Player confidence is down, the fans are apathetic and management is terrible. There is no team more dysfunctional in the NFL than the Bengals.

The Bengals always have been dysfunctional under owner Mike Brown, but now their talent level has dropped way down. Their defense is well-coached and often plays hard thanks to coordinator Mike Zimmer, but it's not nearly strong enough to carry such a weak offense.

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At this stage, the Bengals seem committed to starting weak-armed rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, who has been way overmatched. In two preseason games, Dalton is 19 of 34 for 155 yards with three interceptions and a passer rating of 61.1. He has led the Bengals to just one field goal and one touchdown in 12 drives.

The Bengals have some young talented receivers, but their skills are negated by Dalton's short passes - less than five yards per attempt - and constant dump-offs. The Bengals are going to need to heavily rely on the run, but Cedric Benson isn't a star and the offensive line is below average.

The Bengals may not win a game after Oct. 2. They very well could lose their final 12 games with a total collapse. Their last 12 games are against Jacksonville (road), Indianapolis, Seattle (road), Tennessee (road), Pittsburgh, Baltimore (road), Cleveland, Pittsburgh (road), Houston, St. Louis (road), Arizona and Baltimore.

Cleveland is a five-point home favorite against the Bengals opening week. That line has gone up and could climb higher.

The Bengals are going to be underdogs again in Week 2 playing at Denver. There only real winnable games are at home in Weeks 3 and 4 when they meet San Francisco and Buffalo. Even that looks like a 1-1 split.

Of course it would be great to have an under seven-wins ticket on the Bengals in your pocket. But I don't see five victories either for the Bengals.

Stanford's Andrew Luck could be the best quarterback prospect to come out in the last 13 years. He would instantly restore hope and credibility to the Bengals. So it wouldn't be shocking if the Bengals actually tank in order to ensure owning the No. 1 pick.

The Bengals are so bad, though, they wouldn't need to tank to finish with the worst record.

  
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