Five-and-a-half months ago, I put together this AFC North preview.
In case you're too lazy to click on it, I had the teams finishing like this:
Cleveland 6-10, 4-12 (I predicted six wins, but then I couldn't find six wins on Cleveland's schedule, so a day later, I lowered the prediction to four.)
Now that the Bengals are headed into the bye week, it's time to do two things: 1. Pat myself on the back for being so smart; 2. Predict the rest of the schedule.
Before I look at the Bengals' nine remaining games, I have some good news and some bad news.
The Good News: Marvin Lewis has a 15-9-1 career record in November—although I still believe that the tie should have counted as two wins for the Bengals, mainly because Ryan Fitzpatrick was our quarterback, plus it came against a playoff team.
The Bad News: Lewis is 1-4-1 coming off a bye week. There is a silver lining to the bad news though. The one win off the bye just happened to come in 2003 against—you guessed it—the same team the Bengals play coming off the bye this year, the Ravens.
So are the Bengals going to make the playoffs? Do they have any shot at the Super Bowl? Let's look at their remaining schedule.
(By the way, does the Super Bowl logo at right look orange and black to anyone else? Is this a good thing? Can the Bengals just have the Lombardi Trophy now?)
Nov. 8 and 15: Ravens and Steelers
These two games are lumped together for one reason: The Bengals are not going to lose both of them.
Dustin Diamond will win an Academy Award for playing Screech Powers in a movie about the Holocaust before the Bengals lose both of these games.
This team is too good to lose two games in a row. Will they lose to the Steelers? Maybe. Will they lose to the Ravens? Possibly—but they will not lose to both of these teams. Bengals record on Nov. 16: 6-3.
Nov. 22: Bengals at Raiders
The problem for the Raiders is that if Helen Keller were still alive and they signed her, she would be an upgrade at quarterback. Bengals improve to 7-3.
Nov. 29: Browns at Bengals
If Browns coach Eric Mangini was a hostage negotiator, everyone would be dead in under three minutes. Bengals up their record to 8-3.
Dec. 6: Lions at Bengals
Raise your hand if you know when the Lions last beat the Bengals. We'll give you a hint: Barry Sanders scored a touchdown, and Beverly Hills 90210 was our favorite show on TV. If you guessed Nov. 22, 1992, slap yourself for knowing too much. Bengals claw their way to 9-3.
Dec. 13: Bengals at Vikings
Dec. 20: Bengals at Chargers
Putting the Bengals on the West Coast is like putting a mail bomb in Ted Kaczynski's hands and asking him not to blow anyone up. The Chargers are always desperate for a win by this point in the season. Bengals fall to 10-4.
Dec. 27: Chiefs at Bengals
Larry Johnson is a f@g. Well, actually he called someone that and now he probably won't be playing football the rest of the season, but you have to admit, that's a pretty cool way he's sporting his hat in the picture below. Bengals win and improve to 11-4.
It's the last regular season game ever at the Meadowlands. If the Bengals can't improve their playoff positioning and this game has no meaning, then they're going to lose. It's that simple. Let's drop them to 11-5.
Oh, and the rest of the AFC North: The Steelers are going to go 12-4 or 11-5. The Ravens are going 9-7 or 8-8, and the Browns—well, who cares what the Browns do, although I think we can all agree that their win total won't go above four.
And Bengals fans, flights to Miami aren't getting any cheaper.