Monday, November 16, 2009

Cincinnati Rising? Maturing?

The Cincinnati Bengals are a freak-play-away from being 8-1....

But I'll take 7-2 overall, with possession of first place in the division.

I'll take 5-0 in the AFC North: Sweeps of the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, with a possible sweep of the whole division riding on a game with the Cleveland Browns in two weeks.

The Bengals are in control of their own destiny. If they can take care of business the rest of the season, they won't need to sit and watch other games, hoping certain teams will lose so they can make a wildcard game. They will be the ones preparing for a playoff run, not worrying about what other teams are doing.

But lets pump the brakes.

Cleveland is never an easy out against Cincinnati. Detroit has weapons. And do you remember what the Oakland Raiders did to the Philadelphia Eagles?

Everyone assumes that these are three games the Bengals should feast on. But the teams that no one expects anything from are always the most dangerous. Victory is assumed, not worked for. You get complacent.

Now is the time when we find out just how mature the Bengals are. They deserve to enjoy a sweep of the Steelers after a victory at Heinz Field. But they cannot dwell on it. We will find out if the Bengals go back to work, or if they now think they are as good as the experts may say.

The Bengals are talented, and are a very dangerous football team. But it is always scary when the "experts" start to jump on the bandwagon. Newspaper and magazine articles and coverage on ESPN make me nervous. Will the Bengals see all of this and begin to think they are a great team? Or will they continue to work hard during the week, not assuming anything, and go out with an attitude on Sundays?

"People can't wait to see the Bengals fall flat on our face," said safety Chris Crocker. "All that does... it fuels the fire."

That is the attitude the Bengals must continue to have if they truly are a mature football team. They cannot get caught up in the wins, and the expectations that continue to soar with the home fans. They must believe that nobody believes in them.

Because no one does, except for themselves. And it has worked out pretty well so far for the maturing Cincinnati Bengals.

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