Now that Week 17 has concluded and playoff seedings have been finalized and the Bengals' wildcard opponent has been set, I thought it would be interesting to take a poll of how happy or unhappy everyone is with the opponent the Bengals ended up drawing (San Diego Chargers).
Personally, I was glued to the seat at the local sports bar this weekend cheering the Chargers on, as I did not want the Bengals facing the Stoolers and was hoping they'd draw a warm weather team like the Dolphins or Chargers.
Here are my rankings of who I would have liked them to meet with my rationale for the ranking of each team:
1. Dolphins - Pros: Their QB is ailing, they're a warm weather team, mediocre running game and a 2nd year QB who's shown flashes but also some inconsistency. No recent playoff experience either. Cons: Only negative in my mind is they've won the last 2 meetings against the Bengals, albeit by the narrowest of margins.
2. Chargers - Pros: Warm weather team, weakest pass defense of the four teams, Bengals have won the last 2 meetings, including this year in San Diego. Cons: Mathews has played much better the last half of the year so they now have a solid running game, Rivers one of the better QBs in the league, Allen may give our CBs fits, solid run defense.
3. Ravens - Pros: OL has had problems this year, running game doesn't scare anyone, pass defense in the bottom half of the league, Flacco has been erratic and INT-prone. Cons: Recent playoff experience and history of upsetting higher seeds, have had the upper hand in the series with the Bengals recently, excellent HC, tough run defense.
4. Steelers - Pros: Below-average run defense. Cons: Have dominated the series with the Bengals, improving team who've benefited from the return of several starters, recent playoff experience and history of upsetting higher seeds, solid passing offense with Roethlisberger and Brown, solid run game with Bell, aging defense has played well against the pass.
So how do you rank them in order of preference? Were you relieved like I was that the Chargers pulled out a win or were you hoping for a different opponent?
Select the team you feel would be the easiest opponent (i.e. if you preferred for example the Steelers or Ravens for payback purposes, mention this in the comments but select the team in the poll you think would be the best matchup for the Bengals).