The Bengals have a 7-4 record and are holding the sixth and final playoff seed in the AFC. That's the good news. The bad news is that the Bengals have had a nasty habit of getting down early and forcing themselves to fight their way out of a hole to win. For the most part, they've been able to do it. They did it against the Browns twice, they did it against the Titans and against the Bills. About the only two teams they weren't trailing at halftime were the Seahawks and the Colts. They were tied with the Jaguars at halftime.
That's all well and good against teams like the Browns. In the end it doesn't matter how you got the win as long as you get the win. It doesn't matter if it's ugly.
However, the Benglas also got down to the Steelers and Ravens and they weren't able to fight back to win. That's mainly because both the Steelers and the Ravens are good teams and if you allow them to head into halftime with a decent lead, they're going to take advantage of it.
If the Bengals would happen to get swept by both the Steelers and the Ravens but they beat the Texans, Rams and Cardinals, they would still finish the season with a 10-6 record and that's likely good enough to get them into the playoffs as a wildcard team. If not, they'd be awfully close.
However, that's a pretty big chance to take. If they get beat by Pittsburgh and they happen to lose one of those games to the Texans, the Rams or the Cardinals, they would pretty much be in a position where they would have to beat the Ravens or they're out.
Really, they could solve those problems by beating the Steelers on Sunday but in order to do that, they'll need to make sure they head into half time with either a lead or at least with a tie game. If they go to the locker room down by a touchdown like they did in Week 10, and if they lose the game, the pressure will mount for the Bengals to win every game they play from then on out.
The Bengals played well against both the Steelers and Ravens in the second half of those games but there wasn't enough time left on the clock to complete the comeback. That wouldn't be a problem if the Bengals came out of the game running instead of jogging. The Bengals are good enough, both on offense and defense, to play with and beat the Steelers on Sunday, but they're going to have to play the way they did in the second half all throughout the game in order to do it. Pittsburgh is holding on to a wildcard spot too and they won't be heading into this game thinking they've got the win in the bag either.
When head coach Marvin Lewis was asked about the team getting down early and having to fight back during the post-game press conference.
"I don’t have any reason why. I raised cain last week in the locker room about that. We seem to be comfortable being behind and fighting back. I know when that fourth quarter rolled; I said to myself, ‘Well, they let us stay close into the fourth quarter. Here we go.’ We certainly don’t panic. At one point, they had a second-and-three, and we ended up with a big sack to get off the field and switched the field position. We are going to work hard to fix that (getting behind). I would love to learn how to play with the lead. We have to work hard to reverse that if we can."
Hopefully the Bengals can fix that problem because if they can go into halftime with a lead, or at least tied with the Steelers on Sunday, they'll have much easier time winning the game and they'll have less pressure to win out in order to get to the post season.