Why Bengals need a win over the Cleveland Browns

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GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 24: Giovani Bernard #25 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 24, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 24: Giovani Bernard #25 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 24, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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The Bengals could easily see their season slip away with a loss at Cleveland. They need to get the offense on track and make a serious impact.

Has it gotten to this point? Have the Bengals gotten so mediocre that they are actually in a pivotal game with the Cleveland Browns? Every fiber of my being wants to say no. But, hard facts tell me it’s happening. The Bengals and Browns both enter Week 4 at 0-3. It’s a battle that can make or break each team and help establish momentum. Yet, it’s also a time to be very concerned about the immediate future.

So many questions can be asked about the road to this moment. Ask any true Bengals fan and they’d flat out argue the reasons Cincinnati is three games into 2017 without a win. The simple answer would be the merry-go-round of offensive coordinators. Andy Dalton has been treated like a stepping stone to better digs. Jay Gruden bounced for the Washington Redskins and Hue Jackson saddled up for a beach vacation on Lake Erie. Then, Ken Zampese tries to make him think about every minute detail of the passing game.

But, that’s too easy. Blaming the quarterback has become a rite of passage for Bengals fans. There has to be more. The journey to 0-3 has to contain some specific event that triggered the catastrophe.

Was It The Playoff Loss?

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The players claim they have moved on from that rainy night in January. During the 2016 season, there was to be no mention of what happened to cause that loss to the Steelers. But, there comes a time when you have to address the pink elephant in the room. That Wild Card game has become the start of a rapid decline. Since that night, the Bengals have gone 6-12-1. Two of those wins came in a sweep of the team they play on Sunday. But, the fact remains, they’ve been bad since that postseason loss.

Mediocrity has its limits. If the Bengals lose to a team that finished the 2016 campaign with a 1-15 record, it’s over. No matter how good the Browns will be this season, they are still not supposed to be on par with the what the Bengals have “accomplished” over the offseason. Remember? The Orange & Black has an elite offense (stand back and beware the lightning bolt).

A powerful offense doesn’t leave fans and analysts scratching their heads after a loss. The Bengals have become experts at making the impossible achievable when it comes to losing. That wondrous season of hope seems like a distant memory. But, it was a mere two years ago.

To Prove It’s Not Marvin’s Fault

Marvin Lewis is under the gun. He proved that when Zampese got tossed out before the halfway point. There’s no doubt about it, Lewis wants something to happen. But, is he the man for the job? The mater beating the student is always a way to show dominance over another team. But, therein lies the problem. Bill Lazor will be the man pulling the offensive strings against the Browns. If the Bengals get the win, it will be Lazor trumping Jackson. Hopefully, Hue’s familiarity with the offense can be doused with a little tinkering from Bill.

Next: Gotta Stop The Run

No matter which way you spin it, the Bengals need this game. They can’t take another L and stay humble. Jackson’s job is secure. He’s in his second year as coach and is trying to build something. The construction days are over for Lewis. He’s had 15 years to get the framework right for an AFC Championship, at the least. So, there is no splitting the series. This is another must-win predicament against a team that should be an easy win.

Essentially, the Bengals have to go 11-2 to make a run for the playoffs. They have to win the division. The first victory for that postseason run needs to be Cleveland.

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