Had that been the case, the Bengals would have played in the snow against Buffalo on Monday afternoon instead of the Steelers.
What would have happened?
Would it have been fair to look at their recent history? The Bengals beat the Bills twice in the Calendar year of 2023, once in the NFL Playoffs on their way to the AFC Championship, and once in the regular season, after Joe Burrow’s first injury had healed, but before his second injury ended his season.
Now, the quarterback is Jake Browning. He’s shown he’s capable of having great games, but he also showed he wasn’t Burrow. They had still lost DJ Reader, the most important defensive player on the team, and neither Ja’Marr Chase nor Tee Higgins seemed to be fully healthy.
What would have happened?
I think the Bengals probably lose that game. The Bills were a team on a mission on Monday afternoon and absolutely decimated the Steelers. They won by two touchdowns, but the game was really never even that close. I don’t think the Bengals would have had the ability to outscore the offense we saw, especially with so many issues when it comes to stopping big plays.
I don’t know if it would have been a blowout like it was against the Steelers, but I don’t think the Bengals move on to the Divisional Round, either.
What do you think?
Okay, here’s some other random thoughts about a weird Wild Card Weekend:
- While the Joe Flacco story was overall pretty cool (for him, not the Browns), the magic was due to run out, and boy did it. But it wasn’t just the fact that the Browns offense struggled. It was their lauded defense that gave up the majority of Houston’s points, allowing CJ Stroud to throw for three touchdowns and gave up another on the ground to Devin Singletary. They also recorded zero sacks. Credit to the Texans, absolutely. They’re not going to go easy on the Ravens. But holy crap the Browns are in real trouble, and if Creepy McCreeperson doesn’t have a great 2024, they’re sunk.
- I’m happy for the Bills and the city of Buffalo. I lived there for a couple of years, around 2005, when the Bills sucked, and the Buffalo Sabres were great. I miss the city sometimes. I don’t miss the winters at all. It was cool to see it in person for about 20 minutes, and then I was over it.
- The Chiefs beat a Miami Dolphins team that absolutely looked fraudulent this weekend, but it’s also clear that the Chiefs aren’t the team they were over the last couple of years. They’re a shadow of what they were last year and the year before. Unfortunately, that shadow was good enough to beat a team that played as terribly as the Dolphins did. Tua looked awful. Yikes.
- Here’s one that shocked me. I figured the Packers would give the Cowboys a game, but I really thought this could be the Cowboys year. That’s how well they played this season. But they are the Dallas Cowboys, which means they’re destined to disappoint in the playoffs. I’m not personally disappointed, I don’t have feelings about Dallas one way or another, but typically, people love them or hate them.
- I can’t think of a single instance in which a 10-1 team collapsed the way the Eagles did this year without having some sort of catastrophic injury. I mean, I’d get it if Jalen Hurts had been lost for the season, but the Eagles went from being really good to being so bad they lost every game remaining on the season, except one to the Giants, and they almost lost that one. What the hell happened?
- Good for Baker Mayfield. I don’t hate him now that he’s not a Brown.
- I’m happy for the city of Detroit and all Lions fans. Doesn’t this feel familiar? I hope they go all the way. I was a little surprised they booed Matt Stafford, but I get it. We would have booed and did boo Carson Palmer. That was a fun game to watch, but I’m happy the Lions held on and now get to host another playoff game.
- Think about this: The Texans embarrassed the Browns with the picks they got for trading Deshaun Watson. At the same time, Baker Mayfield, who is the best quarterback that the franchise has drafted over the last several years, embarrassed the Eagles with a great playoff game after having the best year of his career. What a crappy weekend for a crappy city. I love it!
- I will be shocked if Mike McCarthy isn’t fired. I don’t personally think he should be fired, but firing him seems like a very Jerry Jones thing to do.
- I also don’t know if I see Bill Belichick going to Dallas to coach just because of how involved Jones is with the team. I don’t know how he would deal with a meddlesome owner.
Here’s how I see the Divisional Round going:
- Ravens defeat Texans and move on to host the AFC Championship.
- Packers shock the 49ers, winning in overtime.
- Lions beat the Buccaneers in a very high-scoring and fun game and then get to host the NFC Championship.
- Bills just beat the brakes off the Chiefs, and Kansas City fans will petition the government to launch an investigation into the officials, because no loss is ever their fault. Travis Kelce announces his retirement this offseason.
Playoff football is fun, but it’s not quite as fun when your team isn’t participating. That’s okay. Relax and try to enjoy this little vacation. I fully believe the Bengals will be back in the playoffs this time next year.