The NFL season is 16 games long. The Cincinnati Bengals have played two games. Yes, they have looked rather impressive in those first two games, as they beat division rival Baltimore in week one, and last week they stomped the Atlanta Falcons.
Many NFL writers are saying that the Bengals may be the best team in the AFC, and in the top three in the entire National Football League. That may be true, but don’t expect them to be around the top of the power rankings the whole year. The Bengals still have a fairly challenging schedule ahead of them; they have to play host to the Tennessee Titans this weekend. You may not fear the Titans much, but they did have an impressive win against the Kansas City Chiefs in week one, don’t underestimate them.
After this weekend’s game, the team has a BYE week where they will prepare to travel to Foxboro, Massachusetts, to take on the always dangerous Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Tom Brady is a lot like Jamison Irish whiskey, he only if getting better with age. For as long as Tom Brady is under-center in New England, the Patriots will be a dangerous team, they really are, and have been for years, the AFC’s elite team. It would be a huge confidence booster if Cincinnati could beat them for the second year in-a-row.
Following the game against the Pats, the Bengals will have to play Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers, followed by the Indianapolis Colts, both teams are lead by extremely different, yet talented young quarterbacks, we’ll see how the Bengals defense responds to that challenge.
The team then gets to play Jacksonville and Cleveland back-to-back. I don’t see the Jags doing much damage this year, and as for the Browns, I think they’ll finish near .500, but I do not expect them to be a threat to Cincinnati this year.
After that “break” in the schedule, it’s back to work as the Bengals will travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints, it’ll be Who Dey vs. Who Dat. Drew Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in the game, no doubt. Last week the Saints did fall to the Browns, but I fully expect them to win at least 10 games this year.
Next, the Houston Texans will welcome the team to town. The Bengals still have a sour taste in their mouth about the Texans crushing their Super Bowl dreams in back-to-back years. The Texans always play tough against the Bengals, no matter how different their records are.
The Bengals will not be challenged again until they play the Pittsburgh Steelers twice in the last four weeks of the season, and when they play host to Peyton Manning and the reigning AFC Champion Denver Broncos.
Bengals fans have every right to be excited about this season, but don’t expect them to win 12+ games, they will be tested. If this team is able to make the playoffs, which I believe they will be, they definitely earned it.