Thanks to a four touchdown effort by QB Andy Dalton the Cincinnati Bengals snapped a four game losing streak with a win against the New York Giants on Sunday. Dalton and the Bengals reached the NFL playoffs last season but were bounced on Wild Card Weekend by the Houston Texans. Since then, the Bengals have struggled to find an identity in 2012.
Was the win on Sunday simply a matter of a depleted Giants team or are the Bengals here to stay?
In my mind, Cincinnati definitely has the talent to make another playoff birth this season, however with a 4-5 record the Bengals have to make up some ground fast.
Fortunately for the Bengals, their next five games will be against teams with a combined 15-29 record. Road games against the lowly Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and the Philadelphia Eagles are more than winnable games for the Bengals. Furthermore, when the week 16 road matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers rolls around the Bengals have no excuse not to be 9-5. After the Bengals travel to Pittsburgh, they will come home to face the Baltimore Ravens and end the season against a team who may or may not have a playoff birth wrapped up.
Overall, the Bengals have a prime opportunity to take advantage of a generous schedule and reach the playoffs for a second straight season.
But, As any good NFL fan knows, the game is not played on paper and the Bengals will not be handed these games even against those struggling opponents.
When the Bengals have struggled it has been because of their defense. Ranked 25th in points allowed, the Bengals have yielded more than 30 points a contest four times already this season. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer will have to rally the defense and keep the opposing offense out of the end zone. At the end of the day, keep an eye out for this Bengals team as their remaining schedule lends plenty of opportunity to make a big run.