Will the heartbreak end this year?

The Bengals take on the Steelers Saturday night at 8:15 on CBS.

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Will the heartbreak end this year?

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Well, it is playoff time in Cincinnati. The word playoff alone can make some people in the city of Cincinnati cringe. The looming question that comes up every year for the past five years is, will the Bengals win the big one? History says no, but this teams seems different. It has all year.

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Jay Morrison tweets every Bengals fans worse nightmare… at least for now.

Saturday night, prime time, against the Steelers. It couldn’t get much harder for a first round game, yet it could be a fairy tale. The Bengals get a chance to, as Marvin Lewis puts it, “(to) exorcise the demons” against the Steelers, the team that came in to PBS a month ago and won 33-20. Fines were handed out, Dalton and Eifert got hurt. It wasn’t the best week in the office for the Bengals.

As of Monday 1/4/16,  It is AJ McCarron starting, at least plan on it. He is 2-1 as a starter and could easily be 3-0. The Bengals could easily be the #1 seed, but are the #3. Fans can play the “what if” game all they want but, it is no use. The chance to end the 25 year drought lies in the hands of McCarron and Co. Will the heartbreak end this year?

I don’t know, it sure is going to be tough. I’d like the chances with Dalton more, but McCarron is more than capable of winning this game on Saturday night. He did what he needed to do versus the 49ers and Ravens, and did enough to keep the Bengals in the game against the Broncos. Minus the fumble, he played great against the Broncos.

Why do I feel comfortable with McCarron? He has won, he is a proven winner in college and is a leader. The team seems to believe in him, from what I can see on TV. He has been studying the tape, learning from Dalton and Jackson. He can do this, I believe so. If you look at the first half, he sliced and diced the Broncos number one defense. With throws these throws to Marvin Jones and A.J Green.

He can make the throws to give the WR’s a chance to make the catch. He has a good arm, can throw the deep ball well enough. Case and point is this bomb to Green vs. Pittsburgh

Also, he has does have these weapons: Green, Eifert, Sanu, Jones, Hill, Bernard.

Those guys can help the ease the pressure. This game isn’t on just his shoulders, he has great players around him. Great players make great plays when they need to the most.

The way the Steelers came in and won against the Bengals, yeah I bet the Bengals are licking their chops to square up with them again.

Credit to: Karrem Elgazzar

Clean or Dirty, your call. Credit to: Karrem Elgazzar

The dirty hit on Eifert from Mike Mitchell, an alumni of Highlands and Ohio University, was deemed a “clean” hit on the Bengals record-setting tight end. That hit led Eifert to miss the biggest game of the year vs. Denver.

What even is targeting these days, good lord?

The rule is so confusing it is ridiculous. Anyways, the Bengals will hopefully be able to finish the game with their best red zone target next to AJ Green.

This game won’t be all on the offense though, the Bengals have one of the best defenses in the NFL. They were second in the league in total points allowed. The Bengals surrendered 279 points all year, only behind the Seattle Seahawks 277 points. The D-Line is loaded, Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins have to get pressure on Big Ben.

DeAngelo Williams went down this past weekend with what appeared to be a pretty serious leg injury, that could hurt the Steelers and make them one dimensional if he can’t play. The freak that is Vontaze Burfict will need to play like he did against the Ravens, having 12 tackles and a key INT to turn momentum in the Bengals favor.

The secondary will need to slow down Antonio Brown. It will be tough, but Adam “Pacman” Jones can do it. Jones has had his best year in his nine year career this year. Will Paul Guenther’s defense be up to the challenge?

If the Bengals lose, it can’t be all thrown on AJ McCarron. This team has the talent to win this game. They have the leadership. It is time to show up in the playoffs. The road to Super Bowl 50 goes through the Steelers to start. The road will be tough, why do I bring up Super Bowl 50? The Bengals have won 12 games three times in franchise history. The other two times they won 12 games? Two Super Bowl appearances. Will history repeat itself? We’ll see this weekend. If Cincinnati sports can for once not be thrown a curveball that would be great.

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Logan Steiner ’14 has lots of faith in the Bengals this weekend…

The city needs a win, the Reds aren’t going to be good for awhile, it is the Bengals turn to be the team in the city to bring pride to the city. If you look at the confidence in this Elder alumnus Logan Steiner. He doesn’t believe it will change this year, sorry for calling you out Logan.

The irony of the whole situation is this. For four years, fans and analysts were calling out Andy Dalton for his play in the playoffs, and

Dre Kirkpatrick was apart of 2 National Titles at Bama. He is used to that special feeling, maybe he will be right...

Dre Kirkpatrick was apart of two National Titles at ‘Bama. He is used to that special feeling, maybe he will be right…

now that he could be gone… They say they need him most? I thought he was their Achilles heel? Hmm… interesting. I feel bad for Dalton. He had MVP like numbers this year and now he may not even get the chance to prove he was ready to take that leap.

It seemed this was the year, at least to me. Things were going to change. The were so healthy, it was almost like destiny. Then boom, a freak play on a rare Dalton interception this year, could’ve cost the Bengals and this city a chance to bask in the glory of a Super Bowl appearance.

Now, it seems to be in A.J McCarron’s hands. Which may not give the city the hope it wanted. But, I have a feeling this winter could be different in the Queen City. So does Bengals corner Dre Kirkpatrick.

What do the Bengals need to do to win?

Don’t get conservative on offense, Hue.

The Bengals need to take chances on offense. In the first half of the Broncos game, the offense was going full speed. Taking chances down field and trying to score and get an early lead.  McCarron looked to be comfortable and in a groove as the Bengals coasted to a 14-3 lead heading into half. After halftime, it was totally different. Jackson seemed to turn McCarron into that “game manager” everyone keeps calling him. Not forcing anything, or being too wild. Just check downs. Well, it didn’t work out to well for the Bengals. The Bengals only scored three points in the second half and the Broncos were able to pull out the victory 20-17. It is the playoffs, it’s time to take chances. This isn’t the time to sit back and enjoy the ride. It is one and done, and the Bengals seem to know what that feels like. To change the stereotype around the league of the Bengals choking in the playoffs, go all out. McCarron can do it, he has the weapons around him. Let him sling it, be balanced but don’t get conservative if we get an early lead. If the Bengals can look like they did in the first half alone of the Broncos game, and carry that into the second half. The Bengals can move on.

Contain Big Ben.

We all know how good Roethlisberger is at evading pressure and getting away from sacks. That can’t happen. He can create on the run and kill the Bengals with his arm. Bring pressure and collapse the pocket. The D-Line needs to put pressure on the O-Line of Pittsburgh. If the Bengals can keep Ben in the pocket, and bring him down the first time, not let him escape from a sack. That will be huge.

Create Turnovers. 

When the Steelers have turned the ball over three or more times, they have lost. Three turnovers vs. Kansas City, three vs. Cincinnati, four vs. Seattle, three vs. Baltimore. That is four losses of their six losses. Now they just turned it over three times vs. Cleveland but, it is the Browns.  If the Bengals and their ball hawking defense can create turnovers, I love their chances. Reggie Nelson is a hard-hitting safety who is tied for most INT’s in the NFL with eight. It doesn’t matter, fumble or INT. It will increase the Bengals chances of winning, easy. They picked off Ben three times in Pittsburgh, why not do it again when they need it most.

Win the Field Position battle.

This is something that goes unnoticed by fans, but it was a big reason why the Ravens and Bengals were deadlocked in the first half. The Ravens were starting their drives at their own 28ish. Compared to the Bengals 12ish, if I heard Dan Hoard and Dave Lapham correctly. That can be huge. Kevin Huber is a great punter and winning the field position battle would be huge. If Roethlisberger is pinned deep in his territory, let’s say the 10. That is huge. It changes the way each team calls plays. Special teams can win this game. The Bengals have great special teams players in Cedric Peerman, and Chris Lewis-Harris. Mike Nugent, who missed a key field goal in Denver, nailed a 52-yarder against the Ravens. He also had plenty of leg. Being able to get points from that far out can be huge. It isn’t winning the field position battle, but special teams will be a bigger part in this game than people think.

Everyone thinks the game is already over, the only analyst on ESPN I have heard who thinks the Bengals have a chance was Tim Cowlishaw. He also thinks the Bengals are the deadliest team to play this upcoming weekend.

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“I think the Bengals are the deadliest team, I really liked what AJ McCarron did against the Broncos.””

— Tim Cowlishaw

He also went on to say that he thinks this is the year Marvin Lewis gets his first playoff victory. I think this year it will finally end. It won’t be a offense shootout, it will be typically AFC North battle, with a lot more on the line. In AJ we trust. Who Dey.

 

 

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