Katherine Terrell, ESPN Staff Writer 13d

Bengals' dreadful first-half offense has them below .500 at midseason

Here's a look at the first half of the season for the Cincinnati Bengals and a preview of what to expect the second half:

First-half snapshot with grade: The Bengals came into this season with hopes of turning it around from a 6-9-1 campaign last season, especially after getting younger at linebacker and drafting some talented rookies. However, the offense sputtered to dismal levels, forcing the Bengals to fire offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after two games. While the defense has played well this season, the Bengals look no better overall than they did last season. Grade: Below average

Midseason MVP: A.J. Green. Like last season, Green is one of the few bright spots for a struggling offense that lost tight end Tyler Eifert to injury. Green leads the team with 578 yards and four touchdowns. Even though he has had some rare bad luck with passes deflecting off his hand for interceptions, it's clear he's still the most reliable player on the offense. That's why Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has called him "the best player in the building." Rookie edge rusher Carl Lawson has done an excellent job on the defense, but Green is the heart and soul of the team.

Best moment: Andy Dalton's 10-yard touchdown pass to Green on the first drive of an eventual loss to the Packers. The Bengals didn't win this game, but starting out quickly against the Packers days after Zampese was fired was a critical point in the season. It proved that they might be able to turn things around under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and wouldn't throw in the towel after losing the first two games.

Worst moment:Gaining only 19 total net yards in the second half of a loss to the Steelers. Dalton's turnovers against the Ravens and the firing of Zampese were certainly low points, but the ending of the Steelers game was flat-out embarrassing. Dalton was sacked four times in the fourth quarter alone. The Bengals have only scored 20 points in the fourth quarter overall this season, which is a telling statistic.

Second-half outlook: The Bengals aren't going to have an easy time of it with several road trips left against some of the best defenses in the league. They are past the point where they can fix their offensive line, but they have to figure out a way to have it hold up against some of the league's best pass-rushers if they want a shot at squeaking out a win. On the road against the Vikings looks like a particularly difficult challenge, and they still have another game against the Steelers this season.

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