We're closing in on conference championship weekend which means that there are only four teams left in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy and there are only three games left in the 2010-2011 NFL season. Those four teams are the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New York Jets, the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers. The Bengals faced the two AFC teams this season and the two NFC teams last season. Here's how the Bengals matched up against the four potential Super Bowl Champions.
Against the Steelers:
After sweeping the Steelers in 2009, the Bengals-Steelers relationship went back to normal in 2010; the Pittsburgh took both games by a combined score of 50-28. In Cincinnati, the Bengals lost by a single touchdown (28-21) and had a chance to win the game but lost in typical 2010 Bengals fashion -- that is to say that their opponents gave them a length of rope and the Bengals chose to hang themselves with it.
The away game against the Steelers wasn't nearly as close. It was fairly one-sided and resulted in a 23-7 Steelers victory. The Steelers are a 2/1 favorite to be the Super Bowl Champions.... again.
Against the Jets:
The Bengals played in their first ever Thanksgiving night game this season against the New York Jets. Unfortunately, the last three times the Bengals have played the Jets, including their home playoff game in 2009, they have lost by a combined score of 87-24.
Talk about a three-game long beat-down. The Bengals weren't really close to beating the Jets over the past two years. Luckily, they don't play them in the 2011 regular season.
The Jets surprised the country by knocking the New England Patriots, who issued the Jets a vicious 45-3 beating in week 13, out of the playoffs last weekend. Now Rex Ryan and the Jets will have to travel to Pittsburgh to take on the team that has won more Super Bowls than any team in NFL history. Because the Jets face the Steelers, their odds of winning the Super Bowl is 7/2.
Against the Packers:
The Bengals didn't face the Packers in 2010 but they did play them in week-two of the 2009 regular season. After Cincinnati lost to the Denver Broncos on a last minute freak play, they traveled to Green Bay to face the heavily favored Packers. The Bengals beat the Packers into the ground thanks to three Carson Palmer touchdown passes and Cedric Benson's 141 yards on 29 carries.
It was the first time that the Bengals had ever won in Green Bay.
The Packers odds to win the Super Bowl are 8/5.
Against the Bears:
Five weeks after the Bengals beat the Packers, they hosted the Bears issued them a 45-10 beating. Palmer had one of the best games of his career, completing 20 of 24 passes for 233 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. Benson also had a career game against the team that drafted and gave up on him. He ran for 189 yards on 37 carries for one touchdown.
Chris Henry also caught the last touchdown of his tragically short career against the Bears.
The odds of the Bears winning the Super Bowl are 5/1.
The Bengals had a disappointing a weird 2010 season. No team that I can remember had the level of talent, on offense and defense, that the Bengals did and still finish with a record as bad as 4-12. In the majority of games that they lost they weren't beaten by their opponent, they beat themselves. The Bengals should be capable of playing and beating the four teams that are competing to be the Super Bowl XLV champs.
Hopefully they prove it in 2011.