Monday, November 12, 2007

Come One, Come All! The Bengals are in town!

This commentary on the carnival ride that is the Cincinnati Bengals has been brewing for some time. Their record now stands at 3-6, a disappointing start to say the least.

But if there is one thing the Bengals are good at it is playing themselves right out contention and then sailing to a .500 record. They tend to either start the season well and then tank, or tank from the get-go and then finish strong. Either situation leads to a scenario where hopes are high with "What-If's" at the end of the season and no significant changes are made.

Last season the Bengals started 3-0 and were 8-5 at one point before losing the final three games of the year to end at 8-8. In 2005, they were 11-3 before losing their final three games of the year, including the first-round playoff game in which Carson Palmer had his knee bent sideways. In 2004, they started 2-5 but rallied to go 6-3 the rest of the way to finish out 8-8. In 2003, Marvin Lewis' first year as head coach, they started 1-4 but righted the ship enough to go 7-4 in the remaining games to finish, you guessed it, 8-8. Let's not forget that Lewis took over a team that had finished 2-14 the year before.

Before this season started, I asked the question of local commentators here in Cincinnati why we should believe the Bengals team this year should be any different than the 8-8 team last year. Crickets...and, "Carson is healthy." The defense is, well, the same bad defense. The amazing thing to me is how close the Bengals are to being a 1-8, or even 0-9, team.

Game #1 against Baltimore saw the Ravens turn the ball over 6 freakin' times and the Bengals won by seven (final score 27-20). If not for a deflected, shoe-string interception on the goal line in the final minute of the game the Bengals may well have lost...with a turnover margin of +4. In the game yesterday, the Ravens again turned the ball over six times (proving there actually is a more inept 11 than the Bengals defense) which resulted in a team record seven field goals. In two games, Baltimore had 12 turnovers and the Bengals scored a grand total of 48 points including two, count them, two offensive touchdowns. Remind me again why Carson and Co. are considered a "prolific" offense.

The only other win the Bengals have is against the Jets (38-31) who, let's face it, are a bad football team. The Bengals haven't beaten a team with a winning record since week 10 of last season (New Orleans). If history holds true, Cincinnati should get 4 more wins (Arizona, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Miami) which would give them a 7-9 record. I say the Bengals will be 7-8 going into the final game of the year against a winless Miami Dolphins team...who will get their first win. Who-Dey!

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