Steven A. Smith says Bengals Should Be #1 in Power Rankings


Sep 14, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) celebrates with Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson against the Atlanta Falcons at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

In today’s episode of First Take, host Steven A. Smith said the Bengals should reside in the top spot of ESPN’s Power Rankings.

The segment begins around the 1:23:30 mark–with 5:30 remaining in the podcast, if it makes it easier–while Smith’s remarks begin around the 1:25:15 mark–with 3:50 left.

Smith’s coronation did come with some caveats.  He cited the fact that power rankings have more to do with “what is going on right now” and less to do with “the best team;” Smith does acknowledge the Seahawks as the better team.  When Skip Bayless asked Smith whether or not the Ravens and Falcons are good enough “measuring sticks” to put Cincinnati at the top, Smith responded:

"“Well to me, Atlanta is offensively and Baltimore is in terms of “guts,” being “rough riders,”  it being an AFC North rival.  I think that supersedes what happened with Seattle against San Diego.”"

It’s high, yet deserved, acclaim for a team that largely goes unnoticed in NFL circles.  It’s nice to see the Bengals finally getting a little recognition on the national stage, even if it comes with caveats.  This team has an opportunity to do great things this year.  It is fair for some praise to be reserved until the Bengals win in the playoffs, but it is equally fair and appropriate for analysts to praise what this team is currently doing; the organization has turned itself around in a major way since 2011.

As Smith points out, Lewis has yet to win a playoff game in his eleven years with the franchise; a polarizing fact amongst the Bengals’ fan base.  It’s a deserved indictment against the coach, though I still think it’s tough to judge Lewis prior to 2011 when Mike Brown deserved much of the blame as he himself alluded to.  But it’s still a reality both Lewis and this team must get over if they are to actually change the larger audience’s opinion of them.  This year’s team may be the best the Bengals have had over the course of Lewis’ eleven years.  Because of it, the Bengals may have their best chance yet, under Lewis, to conquer those past demons and achieve a level of success this team never has, a playoff win and maybe a Super Bowl victory.