The Bengals will be playing part two of the Battle of Ohio at Paul Brown Stadium. But, this will be no laugher. Focus is the word for Week 12.
On Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals will be playing the Cleveland Browns in part two of the Battle of Ohio. This second installment of the biannual rite will be held at Paul Brown Stadium. The quick facts show that Cincinnati made quick and light work of the Browns on their home turf. But, this battle on the banks of the Queen City is no joke. It could easily turn into a situation that marks danger ahead. Need proof? Just think 2014 and Thursday night.
Sure. It’s so tempting to put a W in the left column and move on to thoughts about the Steelers on Monday Night Football. But, that’s the problem. Looking at the Browns as a joke is not an option for this team. The Bengals have a history of coming out flat and being unprepared for big games. Is this not a serious showdown? The last time I checked, the Bengals needed to win out for a decent seed in the Wild Card round. In fact, that may not even be guaranteed if they louse it up against the I-71 rivals.
So, is it about having no faith in the players? Nah. For me–and I’m assuming more than a few fans–the Bengals have the talent. They started the year with a roster that touts some of the more interesting players in the league. But, that doesn’t mean the talent can be handled wrongly. It’s all about the way the Bengals have been coached. And Week 12 is not the time to slip in a “just another game” quote. They’re all games that matter, at this point.
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Yes, it’s true the Bengals have owned the Browns under Marvin Lewis. But, it’s also true that Lewis and Co tend to wilt under pressure. There’s a tendency to just feel as though the players will do what they need to do and everything comes up smelling like roses. Nope. This is Cincinnati and a team called the Bengals.
Nothing is a given with this franchise. If it can go wrong, it will go wrong. And that’s not having a defeatist attitude. It’s about the results. No matter what, the hard numbers–if given correctly–tell the tale. And the Bengals aren’t world beaters when it comes to looking good in primetime.
The Bengals have gone 21-8 against the Browns, under Lewis’ watch. That’s a pretty telling record. But, this game will have a playoff feel (at least it should) and that’s where the concern sets in. In games that count this year, the Bengals have been flat and predictable. Coming out of the Bye Week, they have looked anything like a team pushing for the playoffs.
Since the rest week, Cincinnati is 2-3. They went 1-2 on a road trip that could have put them in the driver’s seat for the postseason Wild Card. They have two wins against teams that are considered bottom dwellers this year. But, it’s okay to think they’ll walk all over the Browns? Um, okay. We’re talking about the unpredictable Bengals. Anything can happen.
Bringing it home
Essentially, the Bengals should take the Browns to the shed on Sunday. Moreover, it should be a game that shows how dominating Cincinnati can be, when firing on all cylinders. But, if the Bengals barely slip by their division rivals or have to use last-minute heroics (Colts) to pull off a win, this team ain’t goin’ far.
It may be “just the Browns” that are coming to PBS. But, it’s Cincy that struggles when things are on the line. And this is a game that has to be dominated…not eked out.