And for our bonus roundtable this week:
“Would you be satisfied with a repeat trip to the playoffs, or do the Bengals need to win a playoff game for this year to be viewed as a success?”
Neither. If the Bengals can win a single game, either Baltimore or Pittsburgh, then success is struck in Cincinnati. Obviously, consecutive trips to the playoffs is a milestone and a benchmark for this extremely young team, and moreover, is an achievable feat with a win Sunday. However, even if the Bengals lose Sunday and win against the Ravens, they would have back to back winning seasons for the first time since 1981. At this point in the year and considering what has been accomplished thus far, I would define success for the 2012 Bengals simply: don’t finish 8-8.
The Bengals making the playoffs would be a higher level than I expected entering this season. Although hopes had been raised along with a few impressive wins, the inconsistencies shown in the ups and downs of 2012 belies the fact that this is a young, developing team coming into its own. Granted, a playoff win would be invaluable to a young team, giving them the taste of success heading into the offseason. On the overall history of the Bengals, a quick exit from the playoffs would be a Sisyphusian pain, but this team in isolation, which really formed its nucleus last season, would have made the playoffs twice behind a suffocating defense and one of the top five receivers in the game. Those are two qualities of teams that are successful consistently. With upgrades to the pass rush, interior line (offense and defense), running back and strong safety, the Bengals could soon be a team that is expected to win in the playoffs consistently. The foundation is certainly there.
After the losing streak, I think a return trip to the playoffs is a success. Baby steps in the right direction are key for this franchise.
If the Bengals wind up sliding into the playoffs with the No. 6 seed in the AFC, just making the playoffs would be a success. If the standings hold Cincinnati would then have to make a trip to New England for a first round matchup, and it would take some awfully orange-tinted glasses to see an upset victory there. Circumstances change if the Bengals are able to overtake Baltimore for the AFC North title. Cincinnati would then host the first round game in either a rematch with the Ravens or against Indianapolis. If that is the case, it would be a disappointment to win a division title for the third time in eight years and lose a home playoff game each time.
No, this season would not be a success if the Bengals were 1 and done in the playoffs. We are incredibly used to that in the Lewis era and it’s not a success if the Bengals lose yet again in the playoffs. We see Norv Turner getting fired after not winning playoff games. And Norv does better than Marvin Lewis in the regular season. Bengals fans are tired of mediocrity, and just MAKING the playoffs isn’t good enough anymore. Show us you can win big games, Marvin.
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