I'm usually one to redirect questions or topics that involve "what if". They are based too much off hypotheticals rather than raw facts. That's why I'm going to "what if" the Bengals losses this season. I look at it this way, the only game the Bengals were truly dominated was against the New England Patriots (38-13). Even then, the Bengals were only down 21-13 heading into the fourth quarter. Some of the games we've lost this season could be attributed to a fumble on kickoff or an interception return for touchdown in the first minute of a game. Losses could even be attributed to a roughing the passer call that has EVERYONE still scratching their heads about.
But I believe the deeper question is...
Are the Bengals better than most people are willing to acknowledge? Sure, teams lose and you can always find a play here, or a play there, that if you remove, could alter the outcome. But that's nearly true for every Bengals loss. It's the pros son.
No team has beaten up the Chargers defense like the Bengals offense has. We can, and if given the chance, match them play-for-play.. We shoulda (coulda woulda) beaten the Ravens twice this season. The Falcons, well, I'm not sure how that happened. Anyway, just look at the way we've lost this year...
Bengals LOSE 14-13 against Tampa Bay.
Let me set the stage for you real quick. The Bengals are leading 13-7 with 2:58 left in the game. Bruce Gradkowski was sacked by Justin Smith losing eight yards setting up a 2nd-and-18 at the Cincinnati 40-yard line. Enter flag. A personal foul, roughing the passer penalty was called on Smith who, apparently, drove the quarterback into ground. You will not find anyone, in the entire world excluding North Korea, that supports this call. Tampa Bay moved up to the 25-yard line with a fresh set of downs. Then...
Fourth-and-three with 43 seconds left: An incomplete pass in the end-zone on fourth-and-three was reversed giving Tampa Bay a 14-13 lead with 43 seconds left in the game.
Bengals LOSE by two to Atlanta
Bengals had the lead at half-time, 17-14. Then Michael Vick realized a football is for throwing too and the Falcons win by two points. The Bengals had an opportunity in their final possession before Carson Palmer fumbled the ball at the Cincinnati 23-yard line with a few ticks left on the clock.
Bengals LOSE by six against Baltimore
Two quick touchdowns by the Ravens after a fumbled kickoff and an interception return. Take away those gifted 14 points and the Bengals have a 20-12 advantage.
Bengals LOSE 49-41 to the Chargers
The so-called Phillip Rivers breakout game or the game LT scored four touchdowns -- no no, the one with the Bengals -- Cincinnati actually jumped out to a 28-7 lead. But the defense had Chinese for lunch during half-time and came out stale. Heck the Bengals were leading 38-28 going into the fourth quarter. I honestly believe, if the Bengals meet the Chargers in the playoffs, we give them the toughest fight of all AFC teams.
I know what some of you are saying: you can't win them all, you fool. All I'm saying is that no team truly dominated the Bengals from the first play to the final gun. All I'm saying is that this team is dangerous to every AFC team out there and could run the table if they play the way they are playing. Yes, I know we've played the Raiders and Browns. But we also beat up on the Saints (at their place) allowing only 16 points. We dominated the Ravens for 59 minutes nearly shutting them out. All I'm saying is the Bengals should be favorites in the AFC.