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Will a loss to Jaguars hurt Bengals’ postseason chances?

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JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 28: Dre Kirkpatrick #27 of the Cincinnati Bengals breaks up a pass intended for Marqise Lee #11 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the end zone during the first half of the preseason game at EverBank Field on August 28, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 28: Dre Kirkpatrick #27 of the Cincinnati Bengals breaks up a pass intended for Marqise Lee #11 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the end zone during the first half of the preseason game at EverBank Field on August 28, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) /
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Hopefully, Week 9 will be a wake-up call for the Bengals. Losing to the Jaguars won’t kill Cincinnati’s playoff hopes. But, it’ll cause a huge dent.

NFL Week 9 brings a familiar situation to the Bengals doorstep. In order to prove they belong, it’s a must-win matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. How did they end up in this predicament? Why are analysts and fans slowly turning cold against anything Orange and Black. Well, when you start the season with three losses and fail to look good in all but one, it’s bound to happen. But, will a loss to the Jags put a dent in the postseason plans?

Actually, the Bengals were dealt a serious blow when they lost two games to division rivals. The home opener was a quick gut check that should’ve never happened. Losing to the Ravens, after ending the prior season on a high note was unforgivable. Yes, Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler are gone. But, how long will that be the excuse thrown into the ring?

There comes a time when coaching has to be held accountable. And at this point, it’s firmly in the hands of Marvin Lewis and his staff. The lack of preparation evident in game planning and halftime adjustments is horrendous. And, unfortunately, it has become a hallmark of every team under Lewis since he’s been the head coach. Whew. Had to get that out.

The Why 

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If the Bengals get spanked in Jacksonville, it won’t look good. How else can it be said? After struggling with the Colts, Cincinnati needs to come out with fire and passion. There is no way this team lacks preparation. As stated so many times before, there has to be a pick and choose on this three-game grind. Every team on the road trip will be tossing a big-time running attack at the Bengals.

After starting with the top-ranked Jaguars (169.0), the Bengals face number 12 Tennessee (124.6) and 15th ranked Denver (123.4). The path to postseason play starts with stopping the run. If the Bengals get shredded by Jacksonville, the blueprint for destruction will be complete. Let Cincy blitz the ends, run past them with delays, dump off a quick-hitter to a tight end or back out of the backfield and you can take control. It’s up to the coaching staff (here we go) to adjust and take that recipe off the market.

Reality

Getting to the playoffs isn’t so much about overpowering. It’s really about knowing how to coach. Sadly, that speaks a ton on the preparation that the Bengals’ staff puts into each opponent. Lewis can look angry and smug in the postgame interviews, but it’s ultimately on him.

The Bengals have to win their Week 9 matchup with the Jaguars in dominating fashion. Of course, they won’t roll up 40 points on the Jags. But, they have to play a sound game and show that the men directing and leading them know what they’re doing (!).

Mr. Obvious

The Bengals have to stop the run. No doubt. Playoff football is about pounding the rock and controlling the clock. The Bengals D has to limit each of their next three opponents. They have to make them play into another facet of their game. The defensive philosophy has to change on this trip. There have to be adjustments. The Jaguars are gonna run…the…ball.

"“Yes, I would say that there’s a different mentality,” Lewis explained, via Bengals.com. “But, as the game plays out, we have to be able to adjust to the ebb and flow of the game. The key element is to play well on first and second downs and to get in situations where their down is more in our advantage, which is the same thing on the other side of the football.”"

It’s not a resurgence of the running game. Teams are able to “adjust” and do what’s necessary to post a W. Thank you, Mr. Obvious. But, we’ll see what happens on Sunday.

Next: All About Beating The Jags

Truthfully, the Bengals could get help down the road, if they lay an egg against the Jaguars. But, why put your destiny in the hands of other teams? Will a loss hurt? Yes, of course, it will. Any L is going to go against the playoff chances. Yet, this is what Cincinnati has done. A hole has been dug. And, now, they have to prove they deserve to be dancing in January. 

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