Bengals' playoff fate rides on overcoming Steelers, Ravens
CINCINNATI — The Bengals returned from their weekend off with a big bounce in their playoff chances.
If they win out, the Bengals would make the postseason, something that seemed highly unlikely at midseason when they slogged through a four-game losing streak.
There's also a chance they could win the AFC North, although they need help. The Bengals finish with games at Pittsburgh (7-7) and at home against Baltimore (9-5). The one next week could go a long way in deciding their playoff fate. If the Steelers win, the Bengals would have an identical record with the Steelers, but the Steelers would have the head-to-head tiebreaker because it would have swept the season series.
If they win the last two games, the Bengals would achieve a few noteworthy franchise breakthroughs. Cincinnati, after all, has gone to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons only once in a 44-year history. The 1981 team reached the Super Bowl and returned to the playoffs the next season.
The Bengals would also end their recent futility against the AFC North's top teams. The Bengals are 0-6 against the Steelers and Ravens over the last two seasons.
Cincinnati has lost a combined 10 straight games to the Steelers and Ravens, dating to the 2009 season when the Bengals won their last division title. Last season, they reached the playoffs as a wild card team.
“We really haven't done anything yet,” safety Chris Crocker said on Monday. “I'm not going to say this is a defining moment because we play these guys twice a year. But this is very big, especially at the end of the season.
“We're picking up momentum. These teams are postseason teams every year. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are always in the postseason, and they always go deep, so it's important for us to play well against them now in order to go in with some momentum if we do make the postseason.”
The Steelers beat Cincinnati, 24-17, on Oct. 21 at Paul Brown Stadium, a game that the Bengals let slip away. They jumped to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter, but managed just 105 yards of offense after going 80 yards on 15 plays to score a touchdown on the opening possession.
Quarterback Andy Dalton is 0-6 in his career against the Steelers and Ravens.
He's completed less than 50 percent of his passes (40 of 82) against the Steelers and has never thrown for more than 170 yards in his three games.
Cincinnati has managed just 38 first downs against the Steelers with Dalton as the starting quarterback.
“It's us taking care of our business,” right tackle Andre Smith said. “They have a great defense, and they're going to play their game and wait for people to mess up. It's up to us to go out there and compete and execute every single play.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NFL notebook: Dungy clarifies Sam comments
- NFL notebook: Goodell suggests Raiders could play at 49ers’ new stadium
- NFL notebook: Dungy says he would not have drafted Sam
- Bills’ GM Whaley, an Upper St. Clair native, goes all-in