Cincinnati Bengals: Not time to worry

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Oct 9, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis on the sidelines against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 9, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis on the sidelines against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oct 9, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) is sacked in the fourth quarter by Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Terrell McClain (97) and defensive end Jack Crawford (58) at AT&T Stadium. Cowboys beat the Bengals 28-14. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

Bengals fans have their collective hands pressed firmly on the panic button after a 14-point loss to Dallas last week. But, it’s not time to worry just yet.

Back in 2014, quarterback Aaron Rodgers gave Packers fans five letters — R-E-L-A-X. This is the same advice that Bengals fans should listen to right now. Rodgers uttered that after Green Bay’s 1-2 start. The Packers went on to win 11 of their final 13 games and would have made the Super Bowl had it not been for a botched onside kick in the NFC Championship at Seattle.

There was not much to be happy about last Sunday at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys opened up a 28-0 lead before Cincinnati scored two late touchdowns to make the score more respectable.

Just as I did prior to the 2015 season when Cincinnati lost to Tampa Bay in the preseason, I’m going to tell you why you shouldn’t freak out about the Bengals’ chances of returning to the playoffs.

This is what they do

The combined record of the three teams that have defeated the Bengals this season is 12-3. Pittsburgh, Denver, and Dallas each look like postseason teams at the moment.

Last season, Cincinnati went 3-4 against playoff teams. And if you look at their five straight trips to the postseason, the numbers aren’t great in the regular season against fellow clubs headed for football in mid-January.

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Only in 2013, when the Bengals won the AFC North, did they churn out a winning record in the regular season against playoff teams. That year they went 4-0, defeating Green Bay, New England, San Diego, and Indianapolis.

Combined in the last five years, the Bengals are 12-17-1 during their annual 16-game slate versus teams that went on to make the postseason.

  • 2011: 0-7 (Losses: Baltimore (twice), Pittsburgh (twice), Houston, Denver, San Francisco
  • 2012: 2-2 (Wins: Washington, Baltimore — Losses: Denver, Baltimore)
  • 2013: 4-0 (Wins: Green Bay, New England, San Diego, Indianapolis
  • 2014: 3-4-1 (Wins: Baltimore (twice), Denver — Losses: Pittsburgh (twice), Indianapolis, New England — Tie: Carolina
  • 2015: 3-4 (Wins: Kansas City, Seattle, Pittsburgh — Losses: Houston, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Denver

Sure, it’s a different story when you get into the postseason. And beating playoff-caliber teams during the regular season is a tell-tale sign of a club’s postseason success. The 12-17-1 record may indicate why the Bengals have gone winless in five straight playoff trips.

But nonetheless, you don’t start in the playoffs. You have to win to get there. Which leads me to my next point.

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