Is the End of 2010 the Same as the End of 2008?

CINCINNATI - DECEMBER 26: Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass during the NFL game against the San Diego Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium on December 26 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio. The Bengals 34-20. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Remember 2008?

It was a terrible season in which Carson Palmer went to the IR with an elbow injury. Chris Perry was the starting running back to begin the season and after he decided that he'd rather give the ball away than carry it, the Bengals signed Cedric Benson (I guess it wasn't all bad). Coming into the home stretch of the season, the Bengals had an 1-11-1 record. It was depressing just like this season has been so far.

Then the Bengals decided to win the last three games of the 2008 season to finish with a 4-11-1 record and convince us that 2009 was going to be an awesome year and that we shouldn't give up hope.

This season has been very similar. The Bengals were 2-11 heading into their home game against the Browns on December 19. They beat the Browns, snapping a 10-game losing streak, and then turned around the next week and beat the heavily favored Chargers. Beginning to sound familiar?

If the Bengals beat the Ravens this Sunday, they will have done the same thing that they did in 2008 -- play really terribly until the very end of the season when some sort of light comes on. If that happens, they'll finish with a 5-11 record. The question is, will it make us hopeful for the 2011 season?

There is no doubt that there are going to be a massive overhaul of the Bengals from top to bottom in the off season. Heads are going to roll, there's no question about it. The biggest question is, if the Bengals have a winning season next year and go back to the playoffs, will you credit a new coach (if they hire one, that is) or will you credit the theory that the Bengals are in some sort of cycle in which they are terrible one year (getting better near the end) and then rock the NFL the next? Is it possible that we can predict when the Bengals will be good based on some sort of bi-annual alignment of the stars?

If so, start buying your 2011 season tickets now while their cheap.

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