After a Bye Week, the Bengals have to make a serious move. The first game back is a tough battle with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It has to be a W.
When the Bengals’ 2017 season began, thoughts of returning to the playoffs were a given. The draft was decent. Well, the youth issue was addressed but the O-line woes were ignored. Yet, it looked as though the Bengals (2-3) could fake it until they made the right moves. Then, they went 0-3 and the sky was falling. Now, after the Bye Week, they will be facing another must-win matchup with the Steelers.
Let’s face it. Every game with the Steelers (3-2) is a must-win battle. There are a ton of Bengals fans that would be satisfied going 4-12, if Cincy swept the Ravens and Steelers. But, that’s not a healthy or rational state of mind. What does need to happen is a strong stretch run. The Bengals can still make the playoffs and even win the division. Sadly, the best scenario is with a sweep of the Steelers. That has to start with Week 7.
If you’re not a bandwagon fanatic with zero knowledge of team history, you’ll remember the 2012 campaign. The Bengals made a miraculous comeback, after looking like a complete washout. Cincinnati teased fans by starting the year 3-1. But, after that comfy start, the Bengals went into the Bye Week at 3-4. Three straight losses took the wind from their sails and the season looked lost. But, they were able to win seven of the remaining five to make the postseason.
History Repeats Itself
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Guess what? With 11 games left to be played, the Bengals need to tap into that same force. To have a remote chance at winning the division (longshot) or dancing into the Big Party, losing three games is the max. That would put the Bengals at 10-6 or 11-5. The latter would be the better scenario.
With the Kansas City Chiefs playing like Super Bowl contenders, the best mode of action is to win the division. If not for the early losses and lack (confusion) of offense, Cincinnati’s record could be 4-1 or even 5-0. Outside of the loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, the defense has played at a championship level.
Winning nine of the last eleven games seems like a daunting task. In fact, at this point, there are some fans just looking for a decent end to the year and the 2018 draft. But, it’s not over. The fat lady hasn’t gotten out of bed yet. Yet, the Bengals are in no position to set the alarm clock for her.
At this point, the Broncos and Lions look like the biggest chances for L’s. If the Bengals can finish 11-5 (sweeping the Steelers), there’s a chance of hosting a playoff game as the #2 seed with a bye. But, once again, their future is in the hands of the Chiefs (5-0) and whichever AFC team catches fire.
Marvin Lewis has to rally the troops and get the second sweep of his tenure. But, what’s the biggest problem with that picture? Lewis is 8-22 against the guys in Black & Yellow. It’s either a mental thing when it comes to the Steelers or the offense goes conservative. Outside of 2015’s 16-10 win, there haven’t been many games to get excited about. But, the Week 7 matchup will be one to remember. Essentially, if Bill Lazor and Lewis have the Bengals prepared, it could be the start of something big.