The playoffs are looming and the Bengals are still in the picture. But, a loss to the Browns could make things interesting in Cincinnati.
No one wants to think about the “if” factor in the Bengals and Browns matchup. After all, this is supposed to be a Cincinnati team that was forged in fire and blessed with the best athletes possible. But, there’s always that one possibility that floats out there. The thing made of nightmares, keeping sleep and sanity at arm’s length. What if the Bengals lose?
On one hand, it’s something that should never even come to mind. If the Bengals are focused and locked in on a sound game plan, there should be no problem at all. But, with all due respect to the players, this is a team run by the Two Stooges. Marvin Lewis and Mike Brown are the driving force behind what has become the lovable losers. In essence, the little franchise that could. If the scenario gets ugly and Cleveland happens to pull off a W at Paul Brown Stadium, it won’t be Armageddon and the sky won’t fall. But, it will be another wake-up call for the organization.
Here’s the trick. Here’s how Lewis gets you with the smoke and mirrors. There were players absent from the Browns lineup when the Bengals shredded them on October 1 in Cleveland. Obviously, that means the game will be played at a different pace and there will be factors that the Bengals can’t control.
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"“When you watch the tape of the games since we played Cleveland last — in every single game, they’ve been ahead or winning, or been very close throughout the game,” Lewis said via Bengals.com. “That grabs the attention right away of the coaches and players.”"
He’s setting up the possibility of a close game. So, if they squeak by with a 17-13 win, don’t get an attitude. It was forewarned.
"“Defensively, last time, Danny Shelton and Myles Garrett didn’t play,” Marvin continues. “They’re getting a couple of their players back, like Corey Coleman and other guys that didn’t play in our first meeting. They’re a much better football team than when we played.”"
Yes, I’ll play devil’s advocate on this one. Translation: if we don’t come out hyped, we could lose. Simple. No need for all them there purty adverbs and similes.
By all accounts, this should be a game that the Bengals win easily. If you’re in the picture for a playoff berth, there should be no need for special locker room antics or speeches. It’s…the…playoffs. Each game should bring an intensity of its own. Just the thought of getting back to the dance and possibly moving on to the AFC Championship game and the Super Bowl should be enough. But, I digress…it’s the Bengals. Forgive my excitement.
So, what happens?
If the Bengals lose on Sunday, it’s a serious sign that something is terribly wrong (duh). With six games to go in the regular season, there should be no game played flat and no need for the consequences to be spelled out. It’s win or go home.
Maybe the Bengals still squeeze in at 9-7 or 8-8. The Dalton-Green playoff run started in 2011, with a 9-7 record. The current state of the AFC could have a team sneak into the club with fewer than 10 wins. But, there would have to be major collapses all around.
What should happen? It’s too early to blow it up. There could be that chance of getting a berth at 9-7. But, the respect factor will be shot to Hell in a handbag.
The Bengals will need to take a long look at what happened to become the Browns first win. Brown will also need to slice ticket prices to get people back to the games.