SPORTS BENGALS-RAVENS 20 MCT

The 5-7 Cincinnati Bengals are technically not out of contention for the NFL playoffs — yet. But it feels like they are.

Quarterback Andy Dalton, wide receiver A.J. Green and tight end Tyler Eifert are all done for the year, having been placed on injured reserve. The defense is beyond repair and is on pace to give up over 7,000 total yards.

And then there’s head coach Marvin Lewis, who needs to be fired after this season.

Lewis needs to go now — not just because of his past failures to win postseason games or any important regular season game, but also because he is not a modern-day NFL head coach.

The elite teams in the NFL — the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots —are all led by forward-thinking and innovative head coaches, particularly Rams coach Sean McVay.

The modern NFL is transforming into an offensive-driven league, and McVay showcased that mindset last year with a dynamic Rams offense that has gotten even better this year.

Even Andy Reid (Chiefs) and Sean Payton (Saints) have adapted to the modern-day NFL by building offenses that utilize creative play calling while also drafting players that fit their respective schemes.

Lewis, on the other hand, is a defensive-minded head coach. There’s a couple things wrong with that.

Games in the modern NFL are won by putting points up on the board, which the Bengals don’t do on a consistent basis. And the Bengals’ defense, as I mentioned, is not good at all.

What’s the point of having a defensive-minded head coach if the defense can’t slow down today’s dynamic offenses and the offense can’t bail out the defense?

I respect Marvin Lewis, as he brought the Bengals back from the dead following the lost decade of the 1990s, and he had the Bengals in the playoffs by his third season. Lewis has seven winning seasons and only five losing seasons in his 15 full seasons as head coach, with all seven winning seasons resulting in trips to the playoffs.

We know what transpired in each of the playoff appearances, but that’s not the only reason why Lewis needs to go.

Owner, president and general manager Mike Brown has kept Lewis for this long because he has made the Bengals relevant again. But keeping Lewis around after this year would put the Bengals’ relevancy in serious jeopardy. My only hope is that Brown realizes this.

Keeping Lewis will not only continue to put the Bengals further behind the modern-day NFL but will likely keep fans away as well.

Fans are frustrated — as they should be — and I hope Brown realizes it.

I understand all the injuries the Bengals have had this year. Fifteen players have gone on injured reserve, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for a team to not have to go out on Sundays and compete.

Three of the Bengals’ four straight losses have been by 14 points or more, and all of them came at home.

This Sunday, the team is on the road at the Los Angeles Chargers — another dynamic offense coming off an impressive win at the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football last week.

The Bengals may be limited Sunday as far as personnel goes, but the team still needs to compete. The score will inevitably be lopsided, but I hope we don’t see this team totally quit.

Then again, continuing to get blown out could ultimately end Marvin Lewis’s tenure here in Cincinnati, and it would be a good thing moving forward for this organization.

Score prediction: Chargers 48, Bengals 14