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How will Bengals approach Week 11 matchup vs Broncos?

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CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Giovani Bernard #25 of the Cincinnati Bengals attempts to run the ball past Brandon Marshall #54 of the Denver Broncos and Chris Harris Jr. #25 of the Denver Broncos during the fourth quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Giovani Bernard #25 of the Cincinnati Bengals attempts to run the ball past Brandon Marshall #54 of the Denver Broncos and Chris Harris Jr. #25 of the Denver Broncos during the fourth quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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The Cincinnati Bengals are moving into a delicate time of year. As the season ends, there’s a thin line between giving your all and giving up.

With seven games left on the schedule, the Cincinnati Bengals are looking at a familiar scenario. The 2016 campaign was also one that gave fans few things to cheer about and left a sour taste with those who kept the faith. As the year winds down and playoff hopes are all but done, is there anything left to play for? Posting decent film is always a good resume for the players. But, is their heart on the field or wandering into the offseason?

Honestly, who could be mad or disappointed with the players for their actions? With head coach Marvin Lewis criticizing any and everything, there’s not much joy left in a season that held so much promise.

Denver is going through the same firestorm as the Bengals. They’re sitting at 3-6 and holding out slim hopes for a playoff berth. But, at this point, it would take a huge miracle for either team to sneak into the dance. Getting playoff berth at this juncture would mean greasing some palms. It’s basically a longshot that you don’t bet the farm on.

Another shot at doing something big 

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The Bengals were in the same hole, back in 2012. They put together a solid run and finished the year at 10-6. But, there’s a few problems in the way.

First, the Bengals have already given away the games that could have saved their tail. Coming out of the Bye Week, there should have been more energy in this team. Getting beaten by the Steelers has become a yearly routine for Cincinnati. Lewis had two weeks to get his team riled up and ready for the Heinz Field war. Instead, his players responded with one of the most lethargic and flat games of the season. So, should fans expect anything more?

Secondly, the spankings by Tennessee and Jacksonville proved Lewis’ antics aren’t getting the job done. This team hasn’t been groomed to handle the pressure of winning big games. Is the Broncos matchup huge? Um, yes. Every game the Bengals play, going forward, is a pressure game. They’re all big if the team wants to finish the season with pride. That can be a nasty word, especially when there seems to be nothing to play for.

When asked about the way the 2012 Bengals came back, Lewis had no clue.

"“I can’t remember what we’ve had before. It doesn’t really matter.”"

Huh? One of the biggest comebacks of your tenure…and you don’t remember how it was done?

"“I told you guys I can’t remember (laughs). What turns it around is winning each game. That’s all the matters.”"

And that’s the way it goes in Bengals Nation under Lewis. Is it all the games blending into one or not giving a crap? The world…may never know.

Keep your head up

Even if the playoffs are out of reach, there has to be a sense of pride and accomplishment. Unfortunately, with the drama of Vontaze Burfict, A.J. Green, John Ross and Jeremy Hill the true character of this team is eroding. Burfict has no backing from Lewis, Green snapped from frustration, Ross got thrown under the bus and Hill just got tired.

It’s hard to keep a positive attitude on a losing team and get through the year. Wide receiver, Brandon LaFell gives his version of how it can be done.

Next: But, Is It Too Late For Change?

"“I think there’s a different way you’ve got to keep guys around you motivated, more so than motivating yourself,” LaFell said. “At the end of the day, you still play for your teammates, play for yourself, play for pride. Every guy in this locker room, every guy in this league, is going to play for pride no matter what. Nobody’s going to lay down. I think it’s more so to keep the other guys around you, when you see their shoulders slump down, their head down, to try to keep those guys motivated to keep fighting.”"

If that’s the formula, hopefully, the Bengals can tap into it. But, the Broncos will be a true test. There’s nothing tangible left to fight for.

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