Playoffs? Sure. But Not Like This

Jamie Squire

The Cincinnati Bengals figure as a middle-of-the-pack team for the 2012 NFL playoffs. But first they have too much to prove.

Emotions are divided by a barrier describing two mindsets. There's the pessimistic, "here we go again" attitude and the borderline pessimistic, the step just before "here we go again." Despite holding a tie for the AFC North an age ago (aka, last month), a series of losses to the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers regurgitates 20-year old diatribes, no matter the legitimacy of those arguments.

"I kind of summed it up to the football team yesterday," Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said on Monday. "I thought we were very, very good at stinking up October, and we need to do a cleanse. And the thing going forward is to be better in November and December, because we erased a lot of the positives that we had in September. We found a way to flush them down the toilet in October."

As we hinted during Wednesday's Roundtable, the Cincinnati Bengals aren't out of it, provided you're wearing orange-colored goggles that focuses merely on the standings. There's only three teams with more wins in the AFC and nine squads with three wins, including the Bengals. Following the list of disclaimers required for postseason discussions with the Bengals, of course Cincinnati has to play significantly better, especially improving on their 28 percent third down conversion rate, generating more turnovers with disappointing players shifting to a more reliable producers.

Let's figure for a moment that Houston, Baltimore and New England win the AFC South, North and East respectively. Denver is maintaining the fourth seed over the San Diego Chargers via tiebreakers, leaving two coveted Wild Card sports between teams like the Colts, Jets, Titans and Bills, any of whom could collapse at any moment. Where the Bengals could figure to find trouble is against the Miami Dolphins, who beat Cincinnati earlier this year. Pittsburgh's win last Sunday could be neutralized if Cincinnati beats the Steelers at Heinz Field on December 23.

And yea, they have to beat the better NFL teams, squads with a winner record with a confident swagger that they believe they can win. Regardless. Commentary on the postseason remains a premature subject. Yet due to the position they've found themselves in, the Cincinnati Bengals may require more than a "good run" to achieve an untouched milestone for 30 years.

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