Sunday's Cincinnati Bengals victory over the Buffalo Bills might be the one that propels them into the playoff hunt. That's right, I wrote Cincinnati Bengals and playoffs in the same sentence. Instead of being 1-3 (and being one bad huddle break from 0-4), the Bengals sit at 2-2 and are fresh off defeating an undefeated team and legitimately all but shutting down the league's top-ranked offense. With the next three games coming against opponents with a collective 2-9 record, the Bengals could be 5-2 by All Hallow's Eve.
The Bengals travel to Jacksonville this week to face a Jaguar team in disarray. Unlike the Bills who were putting up points anyway and every way, the Jags are struggling to find the end zone in pre-game warmups. The next week the Bengals return home to face the Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts. Manning definitely won't be back by then, so the Bengals may even be favored in that game. Then the Bengals travel to Seattle, the early favorite in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. All three of these games look to be feasts for a Bengals defense growing more and more confident with each passing week.
And if you're still haven't dismissed me as some raving lunatic or Mike Brown relative, here's where it gets really crazy. In the rest of their nine games, the Bengals face a currently winless St. Louis Rams squad, an Arizona team who lost to Seattle, the Browns at home, and the Steelers twice, who suddenly look very vulnerable with their offensive line. With the Bengals defense playing as well as it has, that's five more very winnable games for Cincinnati. Now we're talking 10-6 and (cue the Twilight Zone music) a possible playoff berth for the Bengals.
By no means am I predicting that, just saying that it's not out of the realm of possibility. Who would have thought that a month ago? Certainly not Don Banks from Sports Illustrated, who predicted that the Bengals would finish 0-16.
This is a very young team, and certainly quite vulnerable still, but they've shown resilience thus far. Expect to see more quarters of football like the second quarter against the Bills as they grow. But they've also shown an ability to rebound from that and play some very good football, especially on the defensive side.
Could this team just be too young to know they're not supposed to be this good? It should be fun finding out over the next few weeks.
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