Alright, it sucks the Bengals dropped the game to the lowly Raiders, 20-17. There are some bright spots that shouldn’t be lost, however.
First, Bernard Scott is more than capable of filling Benson’s gap. 21 carries, over one hundred yards. He did his job and filled the one hole most fans were concerned about this past week.
Second, Palmer rushed for two scores and made plays–in the first quarter and a half. He threw for over 200 yards and only one pick. Of course, after that, Palmer didn’t impact the game but for a fumble and suffering three sacks.
And there are many weak spots to pick at. Five team fumbles, three lost, and a bunch of ticky-tack penalties hurt the team. The defense was surprisingly weak given the previous game’s effort against the Steelers. The offense demonstrated the typical shoot early, haunch up philosophy that characterized the last Ravens game.
What does all of this mean? Well, to many fans on the fan boards, this means we are no longer any good. One week ago, the fans have the Bengals going to Miami for the Super Bowl. Now, many fans are questioning whether the team can limp into the playoffs, much less make a Super Bowl run.
Here’s the bottom line. The Bengals will make the playoffs for only the second time since 1990. Most likely, they will finish 10-6 or better.
Are they going to make it to the Super Bowl? Probably not. But here’s the thing. Last season, the Bengals finished a dismal season at 4-11-1. No one had this team 7-3 after ten games this season, especially with the division schedule giving us four games against Pittsburgh and Baltimore within said ten games.
The Bengals have already come a long way. Doesn’t mean overnight they are going to hoist the Lombardi trophy. There are still issues to address and holes to plug.
If Mike Zimmer returns next season and newcomers like Rey Maualuga, Michael Johnson and Brandon Johnson season as they should, this defense will be even stronger in 2010.
If Andre Smith gets healthy and in a position to assume his place on the line, this year’s surprising offensive line play should only get better.
If the Bengals can develop its receivers like Caldwell and continue to work on issues relating to holding onto the ball, the offense will improve.
This is not an all-or-nothing team. It took several seasons for an excellent Colts team to finally win their one and, to date, only Super Bowl.
The fanbase needs to chill out and enjoy the success that the Bengals have brought so far in 2009. If all the cards are played right, there is no reason to toss out the team and not believe the Bengals can be Super Bowl contenders by next season.