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Fans Should Not Bail Now, Team is Just Getting Started

After this past Sunday’s loss to the San Diego Chargers, the Cincinnati Bengals have now fallen to 9-5 and now control the third seed of the AFC. The team has now lost three of their last five games and will no longer receive a first round bye in the playoffs. After facing the Minnesota Vikings the week before, the Bengals nation was rocked to the core with the death of wide receiver Chris Henry on Wednesday morning.

Although the game and rest of the season had been dedicated to Henry, a win for the Bengals was bleak and not very promising. After trailing 24-13 in the fourth quarter, the “Cardiac Cats” scored a touchdown, two-point conversion and a field goal to tie the game with a little over 50 seconds left in the game. Those 50 seconds proved too much for Philip Rivers, as he drove his team downfield for the game-winning field goal.

Following the loss, fans started believing what they had been hearing all season long on ESPN. That the Bengals weren’t a legitimate team and couldn’t hang with the big boys (Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers or Minnesota Vikings). Have no fear Bengals fans, because a loss to the Vikings and Chargers doesn’t write the ship off yet.

If we think about the game against the Vikings, there were five specific targets in cornerback Leon Hall’s direction. Of those five throws, Brett Favre completed four of them for 30 yards and an interception. On the other side, there were six throws towards Jonathan Joseph in which Favre went one-for-six for seven yards. Problem here is that J-Jo and Leon can’t cover every target on every play. This goes to show that the problem is with covering the tight ends or even the number three or four receivers, not the top two receivers of a team.

Granite, Leon didn’t have a great game in San Diego, but Vincent Jackson has been on fire lately, and with a receiving core of 6’3” or 6’4” guys, the Chargers have one of the better passing games in the entire NFL.

Bengals fans should not be worrying about this team folding under the pressure or being a one and done in the playoffs. The Bengals will clinch this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs at Paul Brown Stadium. The following week, in New York against the Jets, I have a feeling the defense will put Mark Sanchez on the ground on more than one occasion.

The offense, which has been on the receiving end of criticism as of late, showed signs of life on Sunday when Carson Palmer connected with eight different targets and throwing for two touchdowns on 314 yards. Finally, someone other than Chad OchoCinco was able to step up and have a big game as tight end J.P. Foschi and wide receivers Laveranues Coles and Quan Cosby had good games catching the ball. Hopefully this game is a wake up for the Carson’s elbow and the receivers’ hands, as we’ll need a big game from Carson, Cedric Benson, Chad and more to win more than one ball game in January.

After two straight losses, now is not the time to get off the bandwagon. After coming from two possessions behind in the fourth quarter, on the road in a hostile stadium after the loss of a teammate, the Bengals lost. In the process, the Bengals have gained something, and that something is what it’ll take to beat the Chargers on the road again in the playoffs. A rematch is likely, and I expect the Bengals to come through in the clutch like they have earlier in the year when it really matters most.

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