What is the only thing scarier for a Bengals fan than playing the Steelers on Monday Night Football? Playing the Steelers on Monday Night Football after the Steelers were embarrassed the previous week. In week one of the new NFL season the Steelers were manhandled by the Tennessee Titans and lost 16-9 at home. Trust me, that’s not how the Steelers roll. Even though they have been decimated by injuries the Bengals should expect a gut-check performance from the Steelers. It’s just what they do.
The Bengals do have a few things in thier favor this week. First, the game is played in Cincinnati and a home crowd is always a boost. Don’t be surprised though to see plenty of yellow “terrible towels” waving in the night sky. Pittsburgh fans travel like no other fans. I remember games at Riverfront Stadium when more yellow was visible than orange. Secondly, and much more interestingly, James Harrison plays for the Bengals now. The former Steeler, and perhaps, the most frightening defender in the NFL is wearing orange and black instead of the old Steeler uniform. Add to that, he’s not real happy with his former employer. James Harrison knows how to impact a football game – just ask Colt McCoy.
Statistically, since 1990, any team opening the season at 0-2 has only a 12% shot at making the play-offs. With that said, Cincinnati desperately needs to win this game. They gave one away last week to the Chicago Bears and championship teams just don’t give games away that they lead in the fourth quarter. Monday night will go a long way in helping Bengal fans know if their team really does have the goods to deliver on a play-off season or if this is just another mirage in the desert of NFL wishful thinking.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. It doesn’t seem to matter that the Cincinnati Bengals have drastically improved on paper. On the field, it’s still looking like the 90’s.
The Bengals found a way to give a win away today at Chicago. Up late, and they turned the ball over in the red zone. Then the defense made a run to the hot dog stand and watched from there as Jay Cutler took his team the distance to score a touchdown. Who didn’t know that would happen? Exactly. Some things just never change.
On a good note, every team in the AFC North lost their opener as well. But don’t worry…the Bengals are good at erasing any optimism.
The Bengals head to the Windy City for their season opener against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The Bears will line up on Soldier Field without Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, Brian Urlacher, Walter Payton, or even the “Fridge.”
They will have Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, and Deven Hester in uniform and available to play. Problem is, that doesn’t seem like nearly enough against the newly jacked Cincinnati Bengals. Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis have loaded this team with all sorts of offensive talent and Mike Zimmer has built an imposing defense anchored by Geno Atkins in the middle.
With Jay Cutler playing like, uh, Jay Cutler, and Brandon Marshall being dinged up, don’t expect the Bears to make much impact through the air. The O-line will have trouble with Cincinnati’s ferocious front seven and Cutler will have little time to distribute the ball. For the Bears to stay in the game Matt Forte will have to pound out 100+ yards and a few touchdowns.
Meanwhile, look for Andy Dalton to spread the wealth to his bonanza of big time offensive playmakers. Obviously, A.J. Green will continue to be his “go to” guy but expect Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham to catch some balls down the field as well. The run game should be much improved with the addition of Gio Bernard along with the “Law Firm,” Ben-Jarvus Green Ellis.
No “shuffle” for the Bears this weekend. Prediction: Cincinnati 27 – Chicago 10