Bengals’ success may see limits

Matt Riddle and Matt Riddle

The Bengals are comfortable with the term “history repeats itself”. In the 2003 season the Cincinnati Bengals started off their season 1-4 and ended their year with a 9-7 record. This year the Bengal’s started off their year at 1-4 and have fought their way back to surprising 6-6.

The Bengals are currently in a playoff hunt in the AFC that consists of only one remaining spot. New England has a lock on the AFC West, Pittsburgh on the AFC North, Indianapolis has a strong grip on the AFC South, San Diego is holding strong with a two-game lead in the AFC West and the New York Jets are sitting comfortably in one of two wild-card slots.

This only leaves one spot for four different teams (Bengals, Bills, Ravens, Jaguars and Broncos). All five of these respected teams have tough schedules. This is a playoff race that the Bengals have a legitimate shot at winning.

The four teams that stand ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals are Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars and Denver Broncos. The Buffalo Bills have been the most inconsistent team in the NFL this year. Fans in Buffalo never know which team they will be watching.

The bottom line is that the Bills are too inconsistent to make the playoffs. The only chance they have to win the next few games and sneak into the playoffs relies on the legs of running back Willis McGahee. The Baltimore Ravens are a team on the decline. Starting off their campaign this season strongly, they have suddenly fallen into a slump and stand at 7-5. The Ravens have one of the best defenses in the league but they have an inconsistent offense.

The main reason they won’t make the playoffs, however, is that they have to play two hot teams (Pittsburgh and Indianapolis). The Jacksonville Jaguars have also hit a significant slump in recent games. Having had the lead in their division the entire year, the Jaguars recently lost their cool. The team and Coach Jack Del Rio will definitely be sitting out in January.

The Denver Broncos have the best shot at filling this final playoff spot. Quarterback Jake Plummer is having one his best seasons and the defense is one of the toughest in the league. The Broncos face a weak schedule and their team is filled with too much veteran leadership: Veterans John Lynch and Champ Bailey were brought in especially to handle adversity. The Bengals still have an incredible shot at making the playoffs.

Cincinnati has a pretty tough schedule, with upcoming games against the Patriots and Eagles. If the Bengals can go 3-1 or sneak in a win this weekend and go 4-0 they can make the playoffs. The Bengals play winnable games against the Giants and Bills.

The best thing about the remaining four games is that they play the Eagles. Usually this would be a bad thing because the Eagles are the best team in football, but they play them the last game of the year. This means Donovan McNabb and others will be benched so they are not injured for the playoffs. Fans of Cincinnati have high hopes according to die-hard fan and BG student Kyle Kleman. “The Bengals have a legitimate shot at the playoffs — it would be great for the city and the franchise. Hope is all we have,” Kyle said.

The Bengals are not only playing for southern Ohio but for the North as well. With the Browns currently at 3-9, Browns fans will turn to watch their rivals in the playoff race. Cincinnati has emerged as a strong franchise since Coach Marvin Lewis arrived last year. The reason for the Bengals’ success these recent games is the play of young stars Chad Johnson, Carson Palmer, Rudi Johnson and T.J Houshmandzadeh.

Chad Johnson continues to put up Pro Bowl numbers. Carson Palmer is emerging as one of the top quarterbacks in the league. Rudi Johnson still can’t be stopped.

Plus, the Bengals have established one of the best receiving cores in the league with Kelly Washington and T.J Houshmandzadeh.

T.J is closing in on a 1,000 receiving season and a breakout year. The Cincinnati Bengals have a chance to make the playoffs for the second year in row. Maybe this year for Christmas Santa will give the Bengals a playoff birth and continue to give the Browns coal in their stocking.