Winning the division. Making the postseason. Appearing in the Big Game. Winning said Big Game. These are the goals established by virtually every NFL team during their respective training camp, even if it's just ink on paper with no viable chance of resolving those goals into accomplishments. No. Cincinnati didn't win the division but their record mirrored that of the division winner while clinching a postseason berth against one of the team's biggest nemesis.
The Bengals and their fans (us) have long dissolved celebrations of merely postseason qualification, upgrading expectations to greater ambitions that include at least one postseason victory.
"I think our guys realize that just being in the playoffs is not what we're here for," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. "We want to go win the championship. And that's what it's all about. We're starting over and we realize how critical that is, and the sense of urgency we've got to have, and the preparation in the things we need to have going forward."
"We just have to take care of our business," said Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. "If we do that, all of that stuff will take care of itself. We’ve done some good things. We went 10-6 this year and had a good year. We made the playoffs again. That was our goal going into it, and now our goal is to make a run at it (the Super Bowl)."
Since Marvin Lewis was named as the team's head coach, the Bengals are 0-3 during the postseason. Cincinnati last won a playoff game on January 6, 1991 during the team's 41-14 drubbing of the Houston Oilers.
Considering this iteration of the Bengals has established a tendency to break trends (beating the Bills, Jaguars in Jacksonville, Seahawks in Seattle, consecutive seasons with a winning record and postseason qualification), Cincinnati has two big ones this weekend. They've never won a playoff game on the road (league worst 0-5 tied with the Saints) and haven't won a playoff game in nearly 23 years.