There's been way too much talk about this year's Cincinnati Bengals for someone like me to sit comfortably in regards to our favorite team. Some are calling this year's squad intriguing, interesting and even in one case, the surprise team of the year. All of those do apply and the Bengals were well-settled as an under-the-radar team; which they're slowly rising above. Bengals fans are dangerously looking ahead, suddenly entertaining the notion about playoffs.
And why not? Cincinnati's remaining schedule of 11 games are against opponents with a combined .451 winning percentage, which includes two games against the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) and Baltimore Ravens (3-1) each. Upcoming games that remain are opponents like the Arizona Cardinals (1-4), St. Louis Rams (0-4) and Indianapolis Colts (0-5). Cincinnati's ten non-division opponents have a Mike Brown-like .388 winning percentage thus far; the NFC West teams alone are sporting a .368 winning percentage.
Awesome, right? Yet Bengals fans should, at best, temper playoff expectations; too many dangerous games exist on this schedule.
First of all the Indianapolis Colts bring a dangerous element this Sunday with a quality pass rush and a quarterback that's steadily improving over his last two games. Oh, and the Bengals haven't beaten the Colts since 1997; though it was Peyton Manning, who won't be playing this weekend, that largely contributed to the losing streak.
|Curtis Painter's last two games|
Cincinnati travels to Seattle after the bye week to play the Seahawks at a location that the Bengals haven't won since 1994. The Bengals are 4-11 against the Titans since the franchise moved from Houston to Tennessee and the Bengals are sporting a two-game losing streak against the Texans, where they've been outscored by 40 points in both games.
The Bengals have never won a regular season game against the Rams in St. Louis and haven't beaten the Arizona Cardinals since the 2000 season.
Now obviously we could just say, this isn't the same Bengals squad. And I agree; afterall we nominated this season's nickname as the "the season of broken losing streaks" after beating Buffalo for the first time since 1988 and the team's first win in Jacksonville since 1995. But it also doesn't automatically mean the team is bound for the playoffs; the one-game approach should apply to a fan's evolving expectations.