By Danny Cox
The Cincinnati Bengals finished 2013 with an 11-5 record and sitting atop the AFC North. It was their third straight trip to the playoffs, their third AFC North title in the last eight years, and they had a winning record five out of their last eight years. That’s not too shabby a résumé for any NFL team. They’ve only had a losing record three times out of the last 10 years, but … they just can’t win a playoff game.READ MORE: UPDATE: Atmospheric River: I-880 Shutdown, Flooded Roadways, Damaged Homes, Massive Rockslides In Storm's Wake
This past weekend’s disappointing loss to the San Diego Chargers left a lot of questions that will need to be answered and a lot of situations that need to be taken care of before next season.
From the Beginning
Cincinnati opened the season at 6-2 with big wins over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, and New York Jets. From there, they lost two overtime games in a row to the Miami Dolphins and defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
Throughout the rest of the season, the Bengals finished things off with a 5-1 record with victories over the Indianapolis Colts and –you guessed it – the San Diego Chargers.
Once the playoffs hit though, the Bengals just seemed to lose track of everything that has made them so successful during the regular season.
A number of critics are saying that the Bengals didn’t run enough against the Chargers, and that was their downfall.
Others say that Andy Dalton’s multiple mistakes (two interceptions and one lost fumble) are what caused them to lose in the Wild Card round yet again.
Whatever the case may be, the Bengals saw some promise in running back Giovani Bernard. The rookie had 695 yards on the ground and ran for five touchdowns all year. It looks as if the rejuvenation of BenJarvus Green-Ellis could pair well with a rookie back that has a big future ahead of him.READ MORE: Atmospheric River: High Winds Topple Trees, Scaffolding in San Francisco
Coach Marvin Lewis backed up his quarterback after the dismal performance against the Chargers and said he believes in Dalton’s future with the team. Dalton has only one more year remaining on his current contract, and a really good season could garner him a huge contract.
One of the biggest issues that will be appearing is that wide receiver A.J. Green also has just one more year on his current contract with the Bengals. He’s already gone on record as saying that he’d like to have a deal done before the end of the 2014 season, but he’s in “no rush.”
Something has got to be done before next season. The Bengals have to find out what can get them over the playoff hump.
Cincinnati has a lot of talent, a lot of promise, and a really good coach. It is obvious that they can win in the regular season, but they need that extra something – or someone – that has the ability to provide the extra spark when it is most needed.
With Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cleveland faltering, the Bengals have the upper-hand in repeating as AFC North champs next year. From there, they don’t want to let it be 25 straight years without a playoff victory.
For more news and updates about the NFL Playoffs, visit NFL Playoffs Central.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.MORE NEWS: Atmospheric River: Parts of San Mateo County Pummeled with Heavy Rain, Flooding
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.