The Bengals made it through the first quarter of the 2011 season with a 2-2 record. They did that with a rookie quarterback, a rookie No. 1 receiver, a retooled defense, after the losses of Johnathan Joseph, Keith Rivers, Dhani Jones and Antwan Odom, a rookie offensive coordinator, a shortened offseason, thanks to a lockout, and offseason drama than all the drama from all other teams combined.
The odds were stacked against the Bengals coming into the regular season. That's the main reason why every analyst and everyone they know ranked the Bengals dead last in the first power ranking. But after a season-opening win on the road against a division opponent and a win at home against the only undefeated team in the AFC in week four, the Bengals have turned some heads.
So, now they're heading into the second quarter of the season and before their week seven bye, they play two very winnable games. How excited are you going to allow yourself to be?
The Bengals are heading into week five with the league's No. 1 ranked defense. They're going to going up against the 1-3 Jacksonville Jaguars led by rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert. The Jaguars have the second-to-last ranked offense and the 12th ranked defense. Jacksonville is favored by 2.5 points.
The Bengals then come back home to face the 0-4 Manning-less Indianapolis Colts, who are going to rely on either Kerry Collins or Curtis Painter to lead their offense. The Colts have the No. 25 ranked defense and the No. 30 ranked offense. Cincinnati will likely be favored to win that game.
After coming off a win over the Buffalo Bills it's easy to think that the Bengals could go into the bye week with a 4-2 record. If the Bengals top-ranked defense can stop Maurice Jones-Drew and force the ball into Gabbert's hands they can beat the Jaguars and if they can hold Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis at bay, they can beat the Colts.
They looked good enough in the second half of the Bills game to pull that off.
However, we can't forget the loss to the Denver Brocos in which the Bengals allowed Willis McGahee to run all over them and managed to make Kyle Orton out to be a superstar. Then we have to remember the 49ers game. The Bengals bottled up Frank Gore and the defense played well throughout the game but the offense couldn't move the ball. In those two games the, the Bengals only converted two of 21 third downs.
There are bound to be ups and downs with a team like this. That's just how it is going to be. So the question is, will you forget about the two losses and ride the victory over Buffalo and expect the Bengals to go 4-2 into the bye week or will you remember the losses and prepare for the worst?
Or maybe you'll just hope for somewhere in between.
So, how excited are you going to allow yourself to be?