The last game of the season has ended and the Bengals have lost to the Steelers for the second time this year. At least it wasn’t as disgusting a loss as the last one was. I don’t want to say “I told you so,” but holy shit. I spoke to a man this morning who asked if I was going to watch the game, and I said I was but I had my doubts. He said if I’m a Bengals fan I should back them.
That’s not the point here. I am a Bengals fan, sadly. I’m also a Dolphins fan, so as you can imagine, my life as a football fan is not a good one. But, I’m also realistic, and I’ve been saying it not just this entire season, but for quite a few now. If they don’t look like a good team, they don’t look like a good team. Numbers really don’t mean shit.
To prove that point, when the Bengals scored their second touchdown of the game tonight, cutting the Steelers lead to 20-17, Dalton’s passer rating was better than Roethlisberger’s. Say what? Dalton looked terrible for most of the game and Big Ben looked good. Not great, but better than Dalton. Better than the numbers showed.
To further prove it, the Bengals have been in first place of the division almost the entire season. Their division, by the way, is one that was the most competitive and tightly placed in all of football. Each of the four teams were contenders until the end, and only the Browns fell out of contention, while the other three teams are going to the playoffs.
What I find amazing, is not just that the Bengals were lucky enough to have a winning record this year or be in first place most of the season, because they really didn’t earn it. Only a couple of their victories were true victories. The rest were all fueled by cheap, dumb luck. No, what I really find amazing is that the rest of the division were all winning and were all fighting for the top spot, and they couldn’t get past the Bengals for much of the season.
For a moment the Browns were a better team. For a lot of the season the Ravens were a better team. For most of the season the Steelers were a much better team. I can’t believe that just now, tonight, after the very last regular season game, is when the Steelers pass the Bengals into first place, only by beating them for the second time this year.
So what does this mean? Originally they were saying the team who won tonight would get a first round bye, but now that’s not the case. The Steelers get to play the Ravens at home next week, and the winner from that will take on the Broncos, who have also been as flip-floppy as the Bengals this year (to prove it, they LOST to the Bengals last week). Unfortunately, the Bengals get to play the Colts in Indy next week, which isn’t too bad for the Bengals, except if they win they then have to play the Patriots, and there’s no way in hell they’re going to get lucky enough to win there.
As for this game, it was terrible. The Steelers could have played better, but not by much. The Bengals on the other hand could have played a lot better. Who was that team that looked absolutely perfect against the Broncos last week? Where were they this week? Too flip-floppy. Inconsistent. They don’t know when they want to play or not. This week the defense was mediocre, the secondary would have been happy to be mediocre, the special teams weren’t that special and the offense was offensive. AJ Green shouldn’t have played tonight. His arm wasn’t ready and he dropped some important passes. He also caused two interceptions. What does it say about Dalton that he can only throw to an injured Green instead of any one of the other receivers? His arm should be good no matter the target.
The Bengals might get lucky enough to beat the Colts. It depends on which team shows up for both cities. But I hope they lose, because if not, they’re going to be humiliated in Foxborough. And no team should get humiliated in the playoffs. Although the Bengals have a knack for it.
So what is it going to take to turn them around? For one, consistency. Either they’re good, or they’re bad. But being both is terrible. Make up your minds. Either come to play or stay at home. The coaching needs to figure out why they do this, and if they can’t, then they need to go. It’s the entire organizations problem, not just the team or individual people. Something has to change. Sure we should be lucky to finally have a playoff team, but at what point is that not enough? I’d say four years is about the limit.