This night has been frustrating for a lot in the Who Dey Nation. The Bengals get one shot on national television this regular season and elect to not show up. But the panic from some fans has me scratching my head. What is the problem?
Yes, there were some familiar faces on the field, but Cincinnati elected to not play a number of guys with minor injuries or recent injuries. The Bengals played very vanilla, even when they had starters on the field. We did not see the A-game from the offense or the defense, and that’s how they wanted it to be.
No, the 37-0 final margin is not what the coaches wanted. Things can get that way when one team is playing for something and the other is just waiting for next week, or if one team wants to send a message and the other has everything they want wrapped up.
For example, Arizona lost to Green Bay 33-7 today in a game where Green Bay played its starters all the way through and Kurt Warner played just long enough to throw six passes. Then you have the Colts, who played Peyton Manning and co. for just one quarter and lost 30-7 in Buffalo. Based on the logic of those panicking over Cincinnati’s result today, the Packers will most certainly roll over the Cardinals next week and the Colts don’t belong in the playoffs.
The Colts will be off next week, but I don’t think there is anyone who will argue that they don’t belong or that they don’t have the potential to make a good run.
Interestingly enough, next week will feature re-matches of three Week 17 contests. The Eagles will return to Dallas to play the Cowboys, Green Bay will return to Arizona and the Bengals and Jets will again square off, this time in Cincinnati. The Eagles, Cardinals and Bengals all lost by 24 points or more this week, with two of the three being shut out. If I made my picks today, I would take all three of these teams to avenge their losses and move on to the divisional playoffs.
For the Cardinals and Bengals, they weren’t playing for anything and weren’t giving their best shot (or a good shot), opting to keep their opponent from seeing first-hand what to expect when the game matters.
I do not agree with the decision to take this as an exhibition game and not worry about the outcome. The No. 3 seed and avoiding a trip to Indy (should the team win in Wild Card Weekend) sounded like a great idea to me. But the Bengals saw it differently, and clearly were content with the fourth seed.
Wait until next week, when the games matter to everyone playing, before making judgments about these teams. You will be quite surprised if you expect a repeat performance.