From facing Pittsburgh to prime time struggles to playoff losses, the Bengals have a lot of demons to face on Saturday.
When I was six years old my family took a trip to Cedar Point. I’m the youngest of four, and was tall for my age when I was younger. That being said, I was above the 48 inch mark to ride roller coasters. I didn’t necessarily want to ride roller coasters, I was fine with paying $20 of my parents money to shoot some baskets and win a 50 cent prize. But, I was six, and my siblings wanted someone to sit with on the Blue Streak. When we got on the ride, I remember being scared, but excited at the same time. Then the ride took off and we hit the first hill, and excitement left my body and it turned into fear. I cried. I cried a lot. I cried the rest of that trip. There was no amount of candy apples or lemon chills that would calm me down. I hated roller coasters.
Fast forward ten years. I still haven’t stepped foot on another coaster. Never even crossed my mind. I was still the guy that’d spend all of my allowance on games that were impossible to win. Then we took a school trip King’s Island and I was coerced, again, this time by friends. I was 16 now and trying to be cool and not show how terrified I was standing in life for this death trap of a ride. Then, same as before, I get in and we hit the first hill….. and I LOVED it! It was great. I matured a little bit and realized there wasn’t much to be afraid of, and it was actually fun.
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I share this story, because this is the Cincinnati Bengals right now. They have so many demons to face all at once. First, the Pittsburgh Steelers. They’ve had the Bengals’ number for years on end. Cincinnati has been just 2-4 against its AFC North rival since 2011. But, that’s the past. Let’s live in the now. These Bengals have to live in the now. They have an opportunity to get this monkey off their back and show the AFC North, and the NFL, that they are for real.
Cincinnati also has prime time demons to face. The Bengals drew the 8:15 slot on Saturday night. In the past, they’ve struggled when the lights come on. Again, the past is the past. They have the opportunity to lay that to rest on Saturday. If the defense continues to play at a high level, and the offense plays within Hue Jackson’s system, they will be in good shape.
Lastly, but most importantly, the playoff demon. In the playoffs, the Bengals are winless under Marvin Lewis and 0-4 since 2011. Not only are they winless during those times, but they’ve looked like a completely different team in doing so. They’ve had uncharacteristic turnovers, penalties, and blown coverages that you hadn’t seen all season. They have the opportunity to put a nail in all of these “demons” on Saturday, and get this city excited again.
The window of opportunity for this team is wide open. Cincinnati needs to seize it. The Bengals need to get on the roller coaster and just ride. Win or lose, this game should be fun to watch. Let’s all hope the Bengals can come out on top.