Recently, I’ve noticed something very strange that I haven’t seen since 2005. The Cincinnati Bengals are now ranked number four in every power ranking on the internet. ESPN. Sports Illustrated. Fox. The national media is now doing back-flips and cartwheels crowding our bandwagon.
None of that ultimately matters to me as long as the team keeps winning. But I admit to a wee bit of confusion. In every one of those power rankings, the Minnesota Vikings are number three.
I understand the national media’s long-standing love affair with Brett Favre. I’m not a fan of the annual ‘Retirement Parties’ that have characterized Favre’s career in recent years, but I never begrudge his outstanding career.
I also understand the Vikings are 8-1, which is currently one better than the Bengals. But compare the ‘quality of victories’ of the two teams.
The Vikings have defeated the Browns, which are currently, and will remain for the forseeable future, the worst team in the league. They have defeated the Lions twice, which are just barely treading water above the Browns. They have defeated a sinking Packer team twice. They have defeated a 49ers team that is becoming exposed as the season carries on. They have defeated the Rams, which ranks between Cleveland and Detroit. The only quality team they’ve beaten is Baltimore, while suffering their only loss to Pittsburgh.
The Bengals, by way of contrast, have defeated Green Bay and Cleveland, albeit in games that were closer than they ought to have been. They thumped the Chicago Bears in embarrasing fashion. And they convincingly defeated both the Ravens and Steelers twice.
It should be noted at this point that both the Ravens and Steelers faced off in last season’s AFC Championship game and that one victory against each team came on their respective home fields.
The Bengals’ losses this season? The first game of the season against Denver, which was lost on the ‘fluke catch’. Then a loss to the Texans, which boasts a strong offense and presents as a serious wild-card contender.
So with one victory separating the Bengals and the Vikings, and strength of schedule weighing for the Bengals, why do the Vikings find themselves in the third position?
Perhaps my confusion can be cleared up on December 13.