At 0-3, the Bengals and their fans have few reasons to be optimistic right now, but this week’s opponent should provide both with plenty to get fired up about.
Through three weeks, Cincinnati is a tough team to figure out. However, there is a lot more bad news than good right now. The good news is the team has had a chance to win two of the three games. The bad news is they didn’t and “you are what you record says you are” as the great Bill Parcells once said.
Going deeper, Zac Taylor’s “offensive guru” label hasn’t translated yet. His offense has looked woefully inept for long stretches of the last two games. While improved from last year, the Cincinnati defense is unsurprisingly still bad.
The Ravens may be too far gone to catch in the AFC North. However, the Browns have their own long list of issues sitting at 1-2. That brings us to this week’s foe, the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are also winless, but more importantly without future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the remainder of the season.
This stat is well known, but bears repeating. The Steelers are 31-9 against the Bengals since 2000. A large hurdle of Zac Taylor’s job is cracking the Steelers code, whether Roethlisberger is in the picture or not.
Large parts of the Bengals fan base have surely already disengaged after the slow start, but Monday night’s game is as realistic a chance as Cincinnati has had at beating the Steelers in a long time.
A road win Monday means the Bengals bury the 2019 Steelers once and for all. That’s enough for the city to cheer its brains out Monday night and would satisfy many people in and out of the Bengals organization. More than that, a win makes it very realistic that Cincinnati could wake up Tuesday morning tied for second place in their division, or perhaps even a game out first place. That is far from out of the race.
I am someone who believes that winning is always more fun than losing. I hate talk of “tanking”, but a Bengals loss Monday makes that talk at least somewhat understandable. However, a win and anything can happen.