Josh Kirkendall: I'll start off an impromptu roundtable... You realize we're going to get slaughtered on Monday Night Football.
Anthony Cosenza: Correct. I'm aware.
Jason Marcum: I don't think the Broncos are playing well enough to slaughter anyone not named the Raiders.
Josh: This has nothing to do with the Broncos, rather the accurate narrative of the Cincinnati Bengals right now. Anyway, I'm applying the Anthony Cosenza of Bengals fandom.
Anthony: Josh knows me too well.
Anthony: The Bengals have beaten only one team with a winning record (Ravens), albeit twice. They have lost to four other good teams (though one will be 9-7 at best) by at least 21 points in each game. Two of those losses were in prime time.
Jason: Most primetime games have been terrible this year. Has to be the worst I can remember, especially the Thursday Night Football.
Anthony: You could argue that the Texans and Saints are "good", but it's more like being the best of a group of poor teams.
Josh: I don't think anyone is going to argue that the Texans and Saints are good. Those were good road wins regardless.
Anthony: They totally were.
Jason: There's good teams, and then there's good wins. At Houston was a good win. New Orleans...not as much after Panthers beat them worse there.
Josh: Hey, give the Panthers some respect. They tied the Bengals with a little help from a kicker who has transformed into the Jason Bourne of kickers.
Anthony: Nugent is like 11-for-11 since the miss against Carolina.
Josh: Anyway... none of that matters. None of it. The Bengals could be on a 30-game winning streak, winning each game by an average of 50-3, and they'd hit primetime and get shredded. Manning + Primetime = No-no levels of oh f*ck. And I know it's negativity, pessimism or the "you don't believe". No. I don't. Not after what we've witnessed.
Anthony: True. While I'm stoked they look to be making the postseason again this year (unless something really gnarly happens), I've greatly tempered my expectations for the team over the next two or more games, based on some of the performances this year and in big games from recent past seasons.
Josh: On the other hand... had the Bengals only lost to the Patriots, then fine. I get that. New England was emotional after they got beat up by the Chiefs the week before. Then the Browns... on Thursday Night Football? WTF was that? At least that wrote the redemption song on that storyline.
Josh: And then... you factor Peyton Manning, who has never lost to the Bengals (8-0), averaging 265 yards per game with 20 touchdowns and a rating of 106.8.
Anthony: I just don't get how one team can be SO CONSISTENTLY BAD in big moments and against good teams--especially when they're averaging around double-digit regular season wins for the past four years. Like, what is the week of preparation like? Is it totally tense around the stadium during the week? Too loose? Awful film study and game plan implementation? How is it like this so frequently?
Josh: Marvin Lewis?
Anthony: Well, yeah, Marvin. But, I'm speaking more specifically.
Josh: It has to be emotional. These things were happening with Mike Zimmer (the ONLY coach that never got the blame despite sh*tty performances in big games). You saw how the Bengals play when they're emotional last week. That was 90 percent spirit/passion and 10 percent preparation/technique.
Josh: Didn't a player come out and say that when the lights come on, some players get small? Wasn't that George Iloka?
Anthony: Yep. So is that coaching, organizational culture, or bringing in the wrong players? Or all of the above? The passion from this last week is what worries me about Monday. Will they be too spent?
Josh: I always go first to the player. They control mostly all of the narrative by their performances. One could say that the coach gets them fired up, and while that's true, that only suggests that this team has no leaders... and none of us really believe that. If the players can't step into the spotlight, then that's on them. Coaches should get blame too, but mostly for poor preparation.
Anthony: Makes sense. You don't think the ghosts of Bengals' failures past plague the team when stuff hits the fan? Like, because losing has been engrained into this team's culture to an extent, do those involved just expect to lose in these big moments?
Josh: Sure I do. I think Andy Dalton is freaking out with the idea of proving everyone wrong. He gets juiced up, excited, anxious and overthrows passes, or loses his accuracy.
Anthony: Yeah. I just wonder what the fan base will do if the Bengals either don't make the playoffs or bounce out without a postseason win again. Will there be boycotting/mutiny? Apathy? Excuses and still a level of excitement?
Josh: Nah, we never overreact to things. Never. Ever. We're even-keel and very meticulous in our reactions.