At my former Bengals blogging venture, I had a small section called the "Veterans of Cincinnati". It started out as old time residents reflecting on the past Bengals teams and their best memories. I will always have that invitation open to you guys and all you need to do is email me at the address to the right (trying to prevent spam, so I won't write it here).
Fellow reader Edward, from Washington D.C., made a great observation the other day in response to my "what if" post.
In addition, Odell Thurman and David Pollack were lost for the year, and it took over half a season of trial and error for Marvin Lewis to discover that Caleb Miller was the guy. Is the defense now as good as their most recent performances indicate; or are they still soft against the run?; and have they purged the "phone it in" attitude shown in the second half of the Chargers game (an attitude all too obvious in the Washington Redskins); or might that return?
Maybe, just maybe, all the pieces are now there for the Bengals to make a serious run at the championship. What are they lacking right now that they'll get in another week or two? Tab Perry isn't coming back; the return game is what it is. The run defense is what it is. The offense is back, if not to last year's efficiency, still, enough to win. What's exciting is, assuming they've got all the pieces, they've got to put it all together NOW! The talent, the coaching, the toughness, now. It appears--I haven't finished my analysis--but my partial analysis and memory is that no team with 10 wins or fewer has ever won a Super Bowl in the 16 game era. Several teams, including last year's champion, won with 11 - 5 records. Why that is, I'm not sure. But like 60 feet, six inches and 90 feet between the bases is just the prefect distances for baseball, 11 wins in 16 games appears to be the minimum showing of a championship caliber team; 10 wins or fewer means the team had too many holes to win a championship; or the wrong attitude; or the wrong coach. That was the difference last year between the two # 6 seeds; the 11 - 5 Steelers won, the 10 - 6 Redskins were one and done. And that's the situation facing the Bengals right now. A bad call in Tampa didn't play a part in Marvin Lewis finding Caleb Miller to play middle linebacker; and the Bengals weren't going to win with either Ahmad Brooks or Brian Simmons in the middle; or lengthen the time it took Carson Palmer to solve his mechanics and timing problems. And there's a world of difference between a team, right now, tough enough to beat the suddenly-beatable Colts in Indianapolis, beat Jay Cutler's Broncos at Mile High, and beat the Steelers at home; and a team that loses one or two of those games. A team good enough to win out against those opponents is good enough to win the championship; and a team not good enough isn't. I really think it's as simple as that. So either they win next Monday and the two games after that; and the three games after that; or they never were good enough this year to win anyway. Any other excuse doesn't really matter.