The verdict is in. There’s no need to keep living in the past. Everyone that bleeds and breathes football knows that the Cincinnati Bengals are 0-4 under Andy Dalton in the playoffs. To be honest, the Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since January 13, 1990. They lost to the Los Angeles Raiders. It’s been so long, the Raiders are back in Oakland. The playoffs are coming and the Bengals will be ready.
The Bengals are emerging as one of the stronger teams in the AFC, if not the NFL. Reaching the playoffs in four consecutive years is a feat that many teams would love to achieve. The Bengals have the luxury this year of getting the job done early. The Bengals (9-2) will clinch a playoff berth on Sunday if they win at Cleveland (2-9) and the Texans, Colts, and Jets lose. Another scenario is if they win and the Texans, Colts, and Chiefs all lose along with the Broncos winning.
The week after a trip to visit the struggling Browns, the Bengals return to the comforts of Paul Brown Stadium to host the Steelers (6-5). With a victory against the men from Pittsburgh, the division crown would be locked up.
Punching an early ticket to the playoffs is proof that the Bengals are playing better than they were in years past. They have rarely been so close to the playoffs with so much time left in the year. It’s also confirmation that the team suffered in the last playoff loss because they lacked their weapons. This time, Cincinnati will be prepared for the postseason. The key is to stay healthy. So far, they’ve been able to avoid major injuries.
The Bengals are in, barring a huge catastrophe that causes a breakdown of monumental proportions. But the Bengals are looking forward. The players realize they’re capable of doing major damage, while the team is at full strength. Andy Dalton has been the recipient of Cincinnati’s frustration. He knows that the fans want more than a playoff win. The team does too.
The way the Bengals are playing this season, the players are confident they’ll go deep into the postseason. The way to do that is by winning. The Bengals have to rack up the wins and get one of the top seeds in the AFC. The Patriots have been decimated by injuries and the Broncos are depending on Brock Osweiler to lead them.
By the time the Bengals play the Broncos, they may be facing Peyton Manning. According to information from ESPN, Manning is out of the cast and wearing a walking boot. He’s focused on getting healthy enough to play again. The boot will be removed and re-evaluated Friday. Until then, the Bengals will need to concentrate on gaining that top seed. Two playoff games to the Super Bowl was the road the 1988 and ’81 Bengals used to catapult into the big dance.
“It really doesn’t matter who the Browns’ quarterback is because at the end of the day, we have to play our type of football game,” said defensive end Carlos Dunlap. “If Johnny’s not playing, it’s a lot less running I have to do.”
Either way, win or lose, the playoffs are coming and the Bengals seem to be ready.
[Feature Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]