Many Bengals fans have come to accept a depressing forecast for the remainder of the season now the Bye Week has passed, and Peyton Manning is set to roar into Paul Brown Stadium as a Denver Bronco. While most of us hope that the bleak of mid-autumn hasn’t infected the locker room to the degree that it has affected the living room, it is important to remember a simple mindset: no one said this was our year. Even the biggest Queen City homer would only have been able to muster a feeble ‘maybe’ as an answer to that question if posed back at the beginning of the season. Our excitement over a 3-1 start admittedly got us gleeful and giddy, and when the reality of another building year struck, Bengaldom collapsed like a teenage girl with crush.
Man up. There is a lot of football left this season, and realistically, it’s probably going to get a bit darker before the dawn. This Sunday is going to be a tough one, so will next week against the New York Giants. While both of these games are at home, it will be shocking if the Bengals are better than 3-6 when all is said and done. However, consider this: Cincinnatigoes on to play Kansas City, Oakland, San Diego, Dallas and Philadelphia in that order. All these teams are trending down, allowing what could easily become a five-game winning streak and fueling the Bengals to a potential 8-6 before recolliding in the two final divisional games; Pittsburgh at Heinz Field and Baltimore at PBS. If the Bengals could snag a division game single game, it’s possible to end the season 9-7, which is about the best record that anyone could have predicted for this team before the first snap of the pre-season.
On the other hand, assuming that aforementioned prediction is more of an orange and black kaleidoscope than high-definition image of the future, closing out .500 or lower isn’t the end of the world either. As confidence is the by-product of a winning team, having a chip on the shoulder of a young team can be just as energizing, not to mention the increased degree in the NFL Draft. Obviously, that’s not the prize that fans should be keeping an eye on.