How confident are we right now?
At one point, very. At one point we were floating, strutting, swaggering; we were kings to our narrative.
Cincinnati secured comeback wins against the Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Falcons, and Miami Dolphins. Baltimore furiously charged in their own comeback effort, but Cincinnati held. The Bengals were winning games they once lost.
We were pretty confident. It’s going to be a special year.
The cardiac cats, the comeback kids were winning games regardless of the cost. Swiss cheese defenses, stagnant offenses; nothing in Cincinnati’s arsenal is regarded as superior to their opponents. Yet, they embraced that raw emotion, a winning attitude, a refusal to lose, a shifting culture geared toward lifting the much-desired Lombardi Trophy.
Cincinnati nearly pulled off their fourth comeback win of the season against Pittsburgh in Week 6. Running back Joe Mixon sliced through Pittsburgh’s defense with 1:18 remaining. Paul Brown Stadium celebrated. Cincinnati celebrated. Bengaldom celebrated. This was how they were winning. Why would we expect anything different, especially against a team they can’t beat? Our lovable cats were breaking down barriers.
Things suddenly changed.
On their ensuing possession, Pittsburgh marched 77 yards, scoring a game-winning touchdown with 10 ticks remaining. It was the coffin nail of a 28-21 loss. Did the play include an illegal pick? Had the flag been drawn on Justin Hunter—who sprung Antonio Brown—the Steelers would have been pushed back to Cincinnati’s 41-yard line with less than 15 seconds remaining. With two timeouts and Cincinnati’s inability to play defense, it was logical to assume Pittsburgh would march inside reasonable field goal range with the few plays they had remaining. Regardless, it played out the way it played out. We don’t like it. But it happened.
How is your confidence now?
In addition to losing the game, Cincinnati lost players. Cornerback Darqueze Dennard and Nick Vigil will miss time. Safety Shawn Williams is recovering from a concussion. Even Carlos Dunlap is fighting through a buttock injury. Don’t be silly. We’re adults. No way are saying that Dunlap is butt hurt. Nope. We’re professionals. (Snickers)
With how the Bengals lost and their rehabilitation efforts to restore their full-strength, Cincinnati travels to Kansas City for a primetime Sunday Night Football game against a 5-1 Chiefs team.
This seems bad.
Everything is stacked against the Bengals.
Kansas City features one of the best offenses with an exciting quarterback, whereas the Bengals defense is injured and, often, ineffective. The Chiefs are playing a quarterback in Patrick Mahomes who could be even more challenging than Ben Roethlisberger at a time where Cincinnati’s pass rush suddenly departed. This includes a Bengals defense that’s allowed opposing offenses to complete 83.2% of their passes against coverages where Bengals linebackers are patrolling. Heading into the weekend, Kansas City’s offense is overwhelmingly the favorite against Cincinnati’s defense.
Bengals vs Chiefs Rankings
|TOTAL OFFENSE||352.2 (23rd)||418.5 (5th)|
|Passing||262.3 (16th)||306.5 (7th)|
|Rushing||89.8 (25th)||112.0 (13th)|
|3rd Downs||42% (11th)||44% (5th)|
|Scoring||29.0 (6th)||35.8 (2nd)|
|Give-aways||8 (t-12th)||5 (t-2nd)|
|Sacks||12 (t-12th)||6 (1st)|
|TOTAL DEFENSE||409.2 (29th)||468.2 (32nd)|
|Passing||292.0 (28th)||340.3 (31st)|
|Rushing||117.2 (20th)||127.8 (27th)|
|3rd Downs||53% (31st)||34% (6th)|
|Scoring||26.3 (23rd)||28.7 (27th)|
|Take-aways||8 (t-17th)||9 (t-13th)|
|Sacks||13 (t-20th)||17 (t-11th)|
Alternatively, Cincinnati might find success against Kansas City’s defense, who have allowed 500 yards or more three times (against the Los Angeles Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New England Patriots).
Cincinnati’s biggest foil on offense is typically themselves (I suppose this could be said about anyone). They’re inconsistent, force situations at times and reach moments of quiet obedience against opposing defenses during the middle stages of a game. Then they surge. Somehow. Randomly, it seems. Their strongest scoring output is the first and fourth quarters.
Then there’s the primetime games.
#Bengals in primetime:— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonATH) October 9, 2018
21-50 all time
8-24 under Marvin
7-39 on road all time
1-16 on road under Marvin
3-14 Sunday nite all time
1-8 Sunday nite under Marvin
1-13 Sun. nite road all time
0-7 Sun. nite road under Marvin
0-3 When flexed
0-0vs. Kansas City
How’s your confidence now?
We encourage optimistic hope.
Anything can happen.
Everything stacks against the Bengals, and predictions justifiably favor a Chiefs victory — an already questionable defense is injured, there’s the well-known primetime issues and playing in a hostile environment at Arrowhead Stadium. Why even play the game, right?
With that said, what if the season-long narrative continues? Let’s face it. The Bengals were 90 seconds away from beating Pittsburgh, a team they never beat. We don’t have those same mental road blocks against Kansas City — Marvin Lewis is undefeated against Andy Reid teams and the Bengals are riding a four-game winning streak against the Chiefs — including a 28-6 win at Arrowhead in 2012.
The cardiac cats, the comeback kids, could easily burst through the wall of status quo. It could happen. There’s no reason why this team couldn’t resume a storyline; a storyline that conclusively builds on a special season will be featured on a 30-for-30 documentary.
“What if I told you that the Bengals would one day win a playoff game?”
The odds are stacked against them.
It wouldn’t be the first time the Bengals faced bad odds against a great Chiefs team...