I get the need to analyze and over-analyze these things. But this was a classic trap game.
Monday night vs. PIT followed by a barnburner against GBP. Next week at home vs. NEP.
Cleveland was the trap game - the "easy" game sandwiched in there.
Of course, there really are no easy games in the NFL. This isn't Ohio State playing Florida A&M.
The Bengals looked flat, they played flat - and they lost. If you play that flat in this league against anyone except maybe Jacksonville you will lose.
I fully expect a breakneck effort against the Pats. I don't know if we will win or not, but I expect a full-on 125% effort. Now, if they come out looking like they did at Cleveland vs. New England then I will be right out on the ledge with everyone else.
The schedule is tough. Look at the rest of the division, no one is doing that well. Put another way, to get into the playoffs we will have to win the AFCN. With DEN/KC, NEP/MIA, and HOU/IND/TEN out there I cannot see more than one team coming out of the North.
As for Dalton, he is what he is. A game manager. He is not nor will he ever be a field general like Peyton or Brady. But with a rounded team you can win with a guy like that as long as he takes care of the football. Now if Dalton continues to struggle, the year is a disaster, and we end up picking high - he is definitely in trouble as I could very well see us picking up a franchise-type QB in round 1 and forgoing any extension on Dalton.
However again the whole team looked like crap on Sunday and it was clearly a trap game that they fell into. I plan to hope for the best on Sunday and see what happens.