The Bengals are now entering a period in their schedule that will provide the greatest mental test of the year. They are about to embark on three weeks of games that they should win. The Raiders, Browns, & Lions are a combined 4-23 fighting for the first pick in next years draft. A position most Bengal players should remember from last year's debacle. Hopefully they will draw on that experience to keep them from falling into an over confident trap.
The other side of this coin is that these three teams will see what a difference a year can make. Watching players, that in their own recollection, are the misfit players of the NFL. The players that have been given a chance to prove themselves. Playing together, "One Team One Fight ", for what many have consider to be, a second rate NFL franchise. The difference maker now will be how well the Bengals dispatch the teams that they should beat in the next three weeks.
The first nine weeks of the season has been full of nail biting must win games and the Bengals have shown up in spades. The downside of these battles is that the Bengals are now a little beat up physically and perhaps ripe for an upset. The challenge ahead is to keep the focus, come out and soundly beat lesser opponents. Create opportunities to rest players they will need for two difficult road games against the Vikings and the Chargers back to back.
When a team is losing the coach is often to blame. When a team is playing well the credit usually goes to the players. Congratulations goes to Marvin Lewis and his staff. The team is playing inspired football, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Watching the Bengals play the last two weeks makes it evident that this is the most motivated team in recent franchise history. This team must only stay the course, a course that is heading toward a division crown.