There’s a ton of football yet to be played. But, time is of the essence for the Cincinnati Bengals. Each game is increasingly important.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it any longer. Some analysts will dance around the topic and talk about certain scenarios and mathematical formulas. But, the truth hurts and is oftentimes necessary with this team. Make no bones about it, the Bengals are in must-win mode and have to get it done within the framework of 10 games. In other words, whatever losses are incurred at this point have to be ones that inflict minimal damage.
Yup. It happened again. The Bengals went and dug themselves a hole the size of the Grand Canyon. But, contrary to views of that wonder, this ain’t a lovely sight. Over the last games on the schedule, Cincinnati has to play sound football. To be precise, they have to play with reckless abandon.
This is the start of the last hurrah for the Men in Stripes. The Week 7 collapse at Pittsburgh helped put another nail in the Bengals’ coffin. It hasn’t been shut, but the air supply is getting thinner. After the results of Thursday Night Football, the Bengals are essentially two games behind the Ravens and Steelers.
Pick And Choose
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And this is where things get crazy. Instead of having the luxury of losing to the Colts–in the instance of an upset–this game now becomes a must-win. The reasoning is rather simple. The AFC North is obviously a three-team race. With the Steelers looking stronger and the Ravens making some noise, the Bengals have to keep pace. Therefore, the wins and losses have to be ones that feed into the playoff scenario and increase the Bengals’ chances of playing deep into January.
To say the least, things get interesting over the final weeks of the season. Standing at 2-4, the Bengals need to go (at worst) 8-2 to make the playoffs. And to possibly tie (or win) for the North crown, they have to finish at a 9-1 clip. Boasting a 9-7 mark isn’t going to get them into the dance. It may help with pride issues, but that’s all. The Bengals have already lost to Houston, Pittsburgh and the Ravens. Those are all possible tiebreakers. Besides, Jacksonville, Tennessee and another dance with the Steelers are coming up. Additionally, each of those teams is an AFC contender and have to be looked upon as battles for the playoffs. Did I mention the Denver Broncos? Yeah, they’re in the mix too.
The Finish Matters
Starting with the Colts, the Bengals are dealing with a bevy of games that need to be won. Are there any matchups that can be taken lightly? To be honest, not really. This team has to get into playoff-mode as of yesterday.
Marvin Lewis has been kind enough to let fans and players think that each game is just another event. Well, think again. It’s time to put on the big boy shoes and get it together.
Finally, if the Bengals are going to make it to the postseason this year, it won’t be from the handouts and crumbs left from other teams. The North will be a battle and the AFC could see four or five teams hit the 10-6 mark. Essentially, there’s no room for mediocrity. It’s time to…make the donuts. For real.