All right, so I was off on my prediction that the Bengals would string off three-consecutive wins against the Texans, Rams and Cardinals. Thanks, T.J. Yates (with an assist from Pacman “I like-ed da scrip clubs” Jones).
However, after their heartbreaking loss to the Texans, the Bengals were able to rebound with a sloppy, yet effective, 20-13 win over the Rams on Sunday. That puts Cincinnati at 8-6 on the season and very much in the AFC playoff hunt. I think they need to win out … and while that won’t be easy by any stretch, it’s a strong possibility with both games being at home.
The Cardinals are 7-7 and play very well at home, but they’re a warm-weather dome team from the West Coast coming to chilly Cincinnati to play a 1 p.m. game in the Eastern Time Zone. Quarterback John Skelton has been solid filling in for Kevin Kolb (who has been less-than-solid after the big trade this offseason with the Eagles … and is questionable for the Bengals game with a concussion) but playing outdoors in the cold will be something new for him.
If the Bengals are able to get past the stingy Arizona squad, it would set up a regular-season finale with the 10-4 Ravens. The Bengals always play well against Baltimore in Cincinnati (and usually in Baltimore, too) and it sure would be interesting if the Bengals were in position to make the playoffs with a win over the Ravens.
If the Bengals win out, all they need the Jets to do is finish 1-1 and the Bengals will be in. The Jets finish with a “home game” against the Giants and then have to travel to Miami for the season-finale. Chances are good the Jets will drop one of those games.
So, while the Bengals don’t technically control their own destiny, they need to approach it as such. If they finish 10-6, they’ll get in as I’ve been saying all along.
Green, Dalton surpass rookie milestones
You have a crush on A.J. Green, don’t you? Just admit it. It’s OK.
With his six-receptions for 115 yards performance against the Rams, the talented wideout became the first rookie to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards since Marques Colston of the Saints in 2006. Green now has 61 receptions for 1,006 yards and seven touchdowns on the season.
Green did hurt his right shoulder against the Rams, but Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said afterwards he believes Green will be fine.
Also, Andy Dalton became just the fifth rookie quarterback in the history of the NFL to surpass 3,000 passing yards. Dalton now has 3,012 yards (59 percent) with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions on the year. It’s incredible how the Bengals set themselves up for future (and current) success with their selections of Green and Dalton in the first and second rounds, respectively, in the 2011 draft.
So, buckle in for the final two weeks of the season. It’s already been better than any of us expected (and you’re lying if you say otherwise) and it will be interesting to see how things pan out against the Cardinals and Ravens. But that Ravens game will mean nothing if the Bengals don’t take care of business against Arizona.