The Bengals are set to take the prime time stage on Thursday night, after suffering from a devastating loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. The short week causes teams various problems; fatigue, shorter practice time, and less time for game preparation. For the Bengals, the short week could make or break their season.
Cincinnati was plagued by mistakes in last week’s matchup. Dalton and the receivers could not get on the same page. There were drops by various players in critical situations, including two by the sure-handed A.J. Green. Even when the team thought they had a sure touchdown, it was discovered that Marvin Jones stepped out of bounds before Andy Dalton hit him in the corner for the score. That penalty negated the points and caused the Bengals to have to settle for a field goal.
The problems weren’t just on offense either. Tony Romo, no doubt, took a beating by the Bengals defense. However, there were several times that this game should have been over, but penalties against Cincinnati kept the Cowboys drives alive, giving Dallas’ offense the opportunity to keep marching. There were also three interceptions by the Cincinnati defense that were dropped onto the turf. Had those balls been brought in, the game would have shut Dallas down for good.
Another issue the Bengals need to work on is their red zone production. Too many times this season, the team has gotten into the red zone, but has not been able to complete their drive for six points, having to pick up three instead. That was just another issue that became very obvious when the Cowboys beat the Bengals by just one point.
Now, with their season hinging on the next three games, the Bengals take a game full of mistakes, into a Thursday night matchup on the road in Philadelphia. With just a few full practice days, the team must find an answer for their problems before they face a newly revived Eagles team on their turf.
The short week could offer the Bengals a chance to put the loss behind them, allowing them to move on quickly. That could work in their favor, so that their players aren’t dwelling on what could have been. It could also work against them. Cincinnati had their issues exposed on Sunday. The shorter time for game preparation may not allow time for the needed adjustments to fall into place.
However practice may go this week, one thing is for sure. Cincinnati must find time to correct last Sunday’s inefficiencies. If there is another repeat for the Bengals, they can count their season out.