The Cincinnati Bengals are going into Week 16 with a chance to make a statement. But, at this point, it may be a tad late.
It has to be close to Christmas. Why? The Bengals are 5-9 and have no chance of sniffing the playoffs. After an offseason filled with promise and (dare I say it) hope, the same scenario is upon fans. There’s the ever-present chance that Cincinnati will end with a prideful burst of energy or languish in the mediocrity that has become a trademark under Marvin Lewis.
Sure, it would be nice to get a couple of solid wins over the Detroit Lions and the Baltimore Ravens. But, would those wins mean anything? Other than getting the adrenaline going and saving face for Lewis, what would they accomplish by winning the last two battles?
They win out
Well, that would be a pleasant surprise and it would be a tad late. When the Bengals stood at 5-6, there was a sliver of…hope. If the Bengals ran the table and finished the season at 10-6, the playoffs were a possibility. The only thing that stood in the way of a whirlwind finish was the Steelers. Them boys from the Northeast could be beaten. It’s all about halftime adjustments. Andy Dalton and Co. just had to come out strong and finish. But, that’s the key word…finish.
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The Bengals promptly laid an egg against Pittsburgh, after giving it their all in the first half. A repeat of the same home results from 2016 haunted the Bengals and things fell apart. Isn’t that so Cincinnati? There was just one thing they had to do. Beat the Steelers and prove that there was some gas left in the tank for a postseason push. Um, wait. Wasn’t that the theme for the year? Something like Run On Your Own Gas? Well. looks like the gas wasn’t premium. It ain’t happenin’ this year.
"“I can’t speak for everybody else, but I’m going to give everything I’ve got for the last two weeks.”"
Spoken like a true winner. But, that mentality has to flow through the Bengals as a whole.
Draft picks speak volumes
There’s also the temptation to lose the last two games and get a nice position for the 2018 NFL Draft. Okay, don’t read this like it hasn’t crossed your mind. After getting stomped by the Vikings, the Bengals moved up to the No. 8 spot in the April frenzy. There are needs that have to be met and players that could help bring some stability to the offense.
But, does that mean sacrifice the last two games? Depends on how you view the situation. Finishing at 7-9 is a moral victory that gets no brownie points towards a loser’s playoff round. It’s better than 5-11 but still doesn’t help with the overall stench that the Bengals manufactured in 2017. If the games get out of control, why risk the players’ health and careers. Take a knee and look for O-line help come spring.
At this point, all attention is turning to bowl games and the players who could step in to get the Bengals back on track. Whoever is under center for the 2018 campaign will need a Grade A line of beef to protect them.
The Bengals probably wouldn’t be in this spot, if money and effort were truly used in the right way during the 2017 free agency period. But, here we are. Once again, it’s a big bowl of mediocrity for the holidays.