If I were allowed to choose an opponent for the Bengals in the playoffs, I would have chosen the Texans. Luckily that's how things worked out. My second choice would have been the Ravens, but playing them on the road would be tough, especially since they know us so well (of course, we know them too), but the Texans are a young team and I believe are easier to beat. The Ravens will face the Colts, who will give them a tough game, I'm sure, but they also have a poor defense and no matter how good Andrew Luck is, the Ravens defense is always a tough one to crack, especially in the playoffs.
ESPN AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley believes that both the Bengals and the Ravens have good chances at making it into the second round of the playoffs, but he also doesn't believe that they will go much further, due to the fact that they would have to face the likes of Peyton Manning or Tom Brady.
The Ravens are too banged up and the Bengals have too many question marks on offense. That's not a desirable combination when you're going up against the likes of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the divisional playoffs.
Hensley questions the Ravens' health when it comes to going deep in the playoffs, but for the Bengals it's the offense that he's worried about. The defense that has held every opponent to an average of 12.8 points over the last eight games is ready to go deep into the playoffs, but Hensley questions whether or not the offense is. He specifically questions the play of quarterback Andy Dalton and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Dalton has taken a step back from his rookie season. He has turned over the ball 20 times (16 interceptions and four fumbles). In his past two full games, he has fumbled twice and been intercepted twice. Dalton has failed to complete half of his passes on third down (47.5 percent) this season, and has had 32 passes batted or tipped since entering the NFL, which is the third-most in the league over that span.
Green-Ellis has been the one carrying the offense in the second half of the season, gaining more than 100 yards in four of his past six games. But he injured his hamstring during pregame warm-ups Sunday and didn't practice Tuesday. Green-Ellis won't be at full strength even if he plays, which puts more pressure on Dalton.
The most important thing the Bengals should be focused on is winning Saturday. A win in the post season would propel the Bengals into the spotlight that they deserve to be in. Once they take care of business on Saturday, they can then begin to worry about the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning.
Regardless of what you think their chances are of winning that game, we can all admit that the Bengals are moving in the right direction and they could be capable of much greater things in just another year or two.