Former Bengals receiver and current NBC Sunday Night Football color analyst Cris Collinsworth was more than surprised about what the Bengals accomplished last season, he was stunned. During a recent conference call for NBC Sports,, Collinsworth had a few different things to say about his former team.
Collinsworth and his broadcast partner and former Cincinnati Reds play-by-play man Al Michaels will be in Cincinnati on October 21. That is one of three scheduled nationally televised games for the Bengals this season. Collinsworth is understandably interested to see the Bengals in person. Especially after the "stunning" performance from last season:
Collinsworth knows that the Bengals face a tough schedule this season. They also play in the rugged AFC North, where three teams made the playoffs last season. The Ravens will be without outside linebacker Terrell Suggs for most of the season and Pittsburgh will be without first round pick David DeCastro for a good portion of the season. Collinsworth does not see this as a huge advantage for the Bengals:
"Cincinnati stunned me last year. I was trying to decide whether I thought they were going to win 3 or 4 games on the season. It was borderline remarkable they were able to compete last year (after the lockout), when you think about a rookie offensive coordinator in Jay Gruden, and you’re talking about Andy Dalton and A.J Green trying to put together a new offense. There are a lot of teams that have sort of used that as a crutch: ‘Oh, we weren’t any good last year, because we didn’t have an offseason where we were able to work together and put in our system,’ and all that kind of stuff. And yet the Bengals completely flipped that on its ear, and turned it into a positive."
"Maybe Cincinnati has a little bit better of a chance, but the bottom line is that it’s as tough of a road as there is for them to get back into the playoffs. But if they win, and get back into the playoffs, I certainly think they have a chance."
The former Bengals receiver has similar expectations for the Bengals as many fans seem to have. He expects them to flirt with a playoff appearance, while maybe coming up just short. But with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, Collinsworth knows that the future is bright for the Bengals:
"They have good young talent. I certainly think they’re a team that is going to compete. I think they’ll be like a lot of other teams that are hanging right around that .500 mark, and win or lose a couple of close games, and that decides it. But the future looks a little brighter than it has in awhile for Cincinnati."
The current NBC analyst shares many of the same views that Bengals fans and "experts" around the league share. The Bengals stunned the world last season. Can they stun us again? Would a playoff victory stun many of you? I think many Bengals fans would like to be stunned in a positive way again this season. Like Collinsworth said, the Bengals will have to come out on the right side of close games in order to make a return visit to the playoffs.