The Cincinnati Bengals will continue to be irrelevant until they can beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.” ~ A Major Setback in a Minor Operation, 23 October 2012
Since that article following the Week 7 loss to Pittsburgh, the Bengals have won 5 of their last 7, outscoring opponents 169-106 along the way. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has rushed four times for over a hundred yards in a game, has broken 1,000 yards rushing already this season and is currently averaging 4.1 yards per carry. A.J. Green broke the franchise record for most consecutive games with a touchdown (9) and current trails only Adrian Forester and Doug Martin in TDs scored this year. The Offensive Line was ranked fifth overall by ProFootball Focus, and a 6th ranked overall Bengals defensive leads the League in sacks.
All that and still the quote stands.
Since the Dalton Gang arrived in town in 2011, the Bengals have a record of 0-6 against the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. Their record is 17-7 against everyone else over the time period. As we enter into “Steelers Week” it’s easy to call this Sunday a ‘must win’. In actuality, that’s a bit of an understatement. Sure,Cincinnatihas to establish that it is capable of beating both of these teams consistently if it is to pull itself from the cellar of the AFC North, but that’s still underselling what these last two games mean.
We’ve talked about expectations for this young Bengals team that currently has eleven rookies on the active roster, and just under half of its total players with less than three full seasons in the NFL. While certainly variances have been voiced, one thing most of us can agree upon is that we don’t want to see the team taking a step back, and at this point, it does not overtly appear that the Bengals have. Best case scenario, if the Bengals win out and Baltimore loses next week to the New York Giants, then Cincinnati will win the division; a feat in its own right. But consider this: if Cincinnati only wins one of their next two, then a lot, but not everything, will matter upon which game is won and which is lost.