Back in my first issue of the Bengals scouting report in week four, I wrote that they "returned to their 2009 form" and that "they'd be in contention to make another run" in 2010.
Sorry for false advertising. Please do not sue.
But there was plenty of evidence to believe that they could have been as good this year as they were twelve calendar months ago. Their offense, loaded with polished stars such as Chad Ochocinco, Cedric Benson, and free agent Terrell Owens, looked sharp and balanced on paper; well, to the naked eye at least. Sure quarterback Carson Palmer was going to have a difficult time managing the ego's of those wideouts, but could their talent have been good enough to over come all those controversies?
No. That didn't happen needless to say; now you can sue me for slander. The Bengals are 2-11; the complete opposite of what head coach Marvin Lewis had envisioned his team as being. In some ways, the team really is not as bad as most critics give them credit for.
This has been one anomalous NFL year. The best teams in the league change on a weekly basis, and the worst teams in the league really don't seem that bad when you look at their rosters. Carolina would be the only exception. One could infer that a lowly team, the Buffalo Bills, play hard, actually have some weapons on offense, and were just the victim of games decided by ten points or less. The same could be said about the Detroit Lions; they play 60 minutes and never take themselves out of the game mentally.
But the same excuses can not be made for the Bengals. Sure they may have lost seven of their 11 games by 10 points or less, but it wasn't because their opponents were better than they were. The cats just found ways to hand games out to their opposition. Jumping off-sides when the opposing quarterback wasn't even going to call a play in the Saints game gave one potential win away. Carson Palmer couldn't even get a Hail Mary pass off in the final seconds as the Bengals fell to Atlanta. In their game versus Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers committed five turnovers, but still managed a win. A Browns fan would admire such generosity, but the Bengals wouldn't sure have it that way.
The Browns were able to hold off Cincinnati 23-20 in their Week 4 clash at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Half back Peyton Hillis wore out the Bengal's front seven for 102 rushing yards and a score to put the Browns on top for good. Linebacker Matt Roth brought down Palmer for two of the Brown's four defensive sacks.
Seneca Wallace got the nod in that game, whereas this time it may be Jake Delhomme; although things are still up in the air. But much has changed since then, specifically the mind frame of the Bengals team. Falling to 2-2 in that game, Terrell Owens shredded the Browns defense in the second half for 222 yards on 10 receptions and moved the chains at will. But this time, Cleveland will be ready, and look to avenge last week's blow against Buffalo in the jungle, more formally known as Paul Brown Stadium.