Are the Bengals Neutered?
The Cincinnati Bengals are having a great season, possibly the best season the team has ever had in the Garish Tiger-Stripe Combo Era.
That would be as opposed to Paul Brown's What the Hell, Put a Name on the Goddamn Helmet Era and Forrest Gregg's Milder Stripes Era that saw them make their first Super Bowl.
But we digress. Back to the present.
Cincinnati has all but clinched the AFC North and is in a fight with the Broncos and Patriots for one of the two first-round byes.
The Bengals have an elite tier of receivers in AJ Green and Tyler Eifert, the latter of whom is tied for first in receiving touchdowns. Their defense ain’t too shabby, either, as they rank second in fewest points allowed per game and tenth in total yards allowed per game.
Even though Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff game in over 20 years, this seemed like a season where the Big Cats of the AFC might contend for a Super Bowl.
Sadly, the Bengals' championships hope took a major hit last week when Andy Dalton fractured his right thumb in the game against the Steelers:
Say what you will about the Red Rifle, but dude's a major part of the Bengals' success. Sure, he's not a Tom Brady or even an Eli Manning, but he's able to get the pigskin to his balling receiving core.
There's slight hope that Dalton will not be done for the season, but his thumb would still severely limit his team’s ability to air it out. That doesn’t bode well for a team that boasts Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard as its backfield.
The dude's basically Tom Brady coming in to be the hero of the punished Bungles franchise. At least, that's his not-so-humble opinion.
But it's a low bar now. If Cincinnati wins only one playoff game, it'll still be better than any season they’ve had since Boomer Esiason was under center.