Cincinnati Bengals: Can They Stay Poised Enough to Make AFC Wild Card?

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Cincinnati Bengals: Can They Stay Poised Enough to Make AFC Wild Card?
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Andy Dalton looks to lead the Bengals to five straight wins versus the Cowboys this weekend.

When I was in sixth grade, Henry Heimlich came to my school to present an award to a teacher that saved a student's life by administering the Heimlich maneuver. It amazed me that someone so well known was actually a presence right in Cincinnati, OH where I grew up.

As I grew older, it became more and more ironically apparent why Cincinnati was the home of the father of choking. 

As a Cincinnati sports fan, I'm all too familiar with disappointment. I was disappointed when Kenyon Martin got injured in the Conference USA tournament in 2000. I'm disappointed every time I remember that Josh Hamilton was with the Reds. I was disappointed when Akili Smith and Peter Warrick failed to live up to expectations. I was disappointed when Kimo hit Carson in 2005.

The bottom line here is that Cincinnati sports teams have found a way to sink in the postseason. The Bengals haven't been in the Super Bowl since 1988 and the Reds haven't been to the World Series since 1990. 

Fast forward to today. The Bengals have won four games in a row, and with the Cowboys and Eagles next on the schedule, it's possible that the Bengals could have a six-game win streak heading into Week 16. With a legitimate chance at the AFC Wild Card, Bengals fans have reasons to be optimistic. 

Benjarvus Green-Ellis has reestablished the Bengals' running game as a force heading into the playoffs. With three straight games of 100 or more rushing yards, Law Firm has silenced his critics and expanded an underdeveloped dimension of the Bengals offense. 

Defensively, the Bengals defense leads the NFL in sacks with 39. Behind the dominance of defensive linemen Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, the Cincinnati D has been pivotal in the four-game winning streak.

All signs point to a renewed Bengals team, however this skeptical Cincinnati fan isn't yet convinced. One of the cornerstones of the Bengals' reputation the past five years is that they can beat the teams they should beat and lose to teams that are even or better. 

While it would make no one happier to see the Bengals succeed, they have yet to prove to me that they can win against a better team. By that, I mean sometimes the team with lesser talent just plays better on that day. Sometimes the better team makes mistakes. The Bengals have yet to be able to consistently force a superior team into mistakes or play at a higher level when they need to (minus the Giants game).

At the end of the day I've never written an article that I've hoped would be disproved. I would love for the Bengals to win the rest of their games, clinch a playoff spot and make a run in the playoffs; however, the scholar in me is far less convinced that will happen.

If nothing else, when the Bengals score and your Bengals fan friends aren't as excited as you think they should be, at least now you know why.

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