One of the most interesting things facing this year’s Bengals team is the weight of their own expectations. Last year, they came out of nowhere to sweep the division and win the AFC North. This year, they’re going to face much greater expectations than in year’s past. Fueling that fire are the lists and rankings that the pundits love to produce. This season, the Bengals have been faring pretty well in them. Exhibit A: USA Today just released its power rankings and the Bengals are 11th, a solid number. The note attached says it’s going to be difficult for the Bengals to repeat. Duh. It always is.
It will be more interesting to see how the team handles these expectations. In some years, they’ve choked when the pressure – and the spotlights – were on. If the team really hopes to climb back on the right side of respectability – and stay there – it needs to be more consistent than in years past. Let’s hope that new trend starts now.