The Bengals will have their backs to the wall again. This time, it’s a huge game at M&T Bank Stadium. A loss to the Ravens ends the season.
Week 12 is going to be the telltale sign for the Cincinnati Bengals. Going to M&T Bank Stadium to face the Ravens will either expose more weaknesses or help the Bengals pull together and make a run at the (dare I say it?) playoffs.
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The Bengals are still in the hunt for a postseason berth. But, honestly, the possibilities are slim to none. The AFC North would have to fall apart and the Bengals would have to finally have a sense of urgency. Yes, that’s been my mantra since the year has basically gone south. If Cincinnati wants to turn things around, it has to be now. With Marvelous Marv at the helm…that may be a problem.
Sitting at 3-6-1 is surely a surprise to anyone that paid attention to the Bengals last year. After barely missing a chance to get their first playoff win, the Bengals seemed primed for a turnaround season. But, suddenly, Bengal’ coaches have forgotten how to prepare the players for big games.
Getting back to winning is the prime directive for this week. But, there are other questions that need answering, as the Bengals limp into Week 12.
Are The Bengals Mentally Prepared For The Rest Of The Season?
After getting surprised by the Buffalo Bills, that has to be a resounding “no,” at this point. The setup was simple. Coming off a Monday Night Football embarrassment, the Bills game carried a serious amount of weight. The mental preparation for the game was already locked into place. London was a bust and had to be erased from memory. The current mission was to post a win against a beatable Buffalo team. The results were horrendous.
Calling games “must-win” is now irrelevant. If a W isn’t in the win column for six weeks, the second half is a nothing more than early preparation for the draft.
The Bengals look like a hopeless Division III college team led by a first-year head coach. How bad is the mental prep? That same Division III team would probably beat the Bengals. A huge part of the game is mental. Unfortunately, a nice slice of a team’s character comes from their leaders. Can you see where this is going?
The current coaching staff is not doing the jobs they were hired to do. Watching the Bengals play is often like watching The Walking Dead. You know a zombie is going to pop up. Sometimes it’s predictable and at other times it can be a surprise. But, you know the zombie is coming. It’s the same feeling. When are the Bengals going to make that mental mistake that costs them the game? Incredible.
Is It Time To Give Up?
Like I said before, the Fat Lady is getting her throat clear and warming up her vocal chords. But it’s not mathematically time to give up. It’s getting close…but not time. The Bengals have come too far to just throw in the towel. Cincinnati showed that it’s a hair away from being that big-time contender that fans are waiting for. The 2015 campaign showed backers that it’s possible. The problem? It must carry over from the regular season into the playoffs.
Yes, the loss of A.J. Green was hard to stomach. Losing Giovani Bernard was heartwrenching. But, this is what NFL coaching staffs and players get paid for. Technically, the Bengals’ third season gets underway against Baltimore on Sunday.
The Ravens and Steelers are tied for control of the division at 5-5. That’s not a commanding lead. But, looking at their respective schedules, the Stilluhs could run the table if they play some defense. Baltimore could easily go 3-3, with tough games remaining against the Eagles and Patriots. Winning the AFC Crown could be a longshot. But, getting another Wild Card berth is doable if they find that “sense of urgency.”
In a week that has seen Stephen A. Smith call for his firing and oddsmakers saying his time is up, Lewis will do what he does best. He’ll lose a big-time game to the Ravens. I want to be wrong. Oh, how I want to be wrong. But, if nothing else, this season has taught me some hard truths about Marv and his Bengals. When it’s time to win a huge game…they come up flat and invisible.
Sure. The Ravens are 2-5 after starting the year 3-0. But, that means nothing. This Sunday, Ravens-Bengals is huge. With that said, it’s either a tie or a loss. Maybe they’ll get the memo this week. I really hope the troops can come through. But, current trends are squarely against it.