In 41 seasons the Cincinnati Bengals have managed 12 winning seasons. In the last 18 years they have managed a grand total of 2. They have a record of 282 wins and 360 losses and measly 5 playoff wins in those 41 years. The last time they won in the playoffs? 1990 when they defeated the then Houston Oilers 41-14 in a wild card game.
So what will be different this season you ask? Is it because they signed T.O.? Because they have a very good QB who hasn't reached his full potential? Is it because they had the 4th overall defence last season? Or perhaps it's because 85 predicted they will win the Super Bowl this year? Well, maybe we wont quite go that far just yet but if you ask me they are true contenders and will be a team to reckon with in the AFC this 2010 season. Lets just say they have something to prove with nothing to lose.
Lets face it, most expect them to compete, some believe the Owens signing will be the straw that broke the camels back, that his attitude mixed with Ochocincos will cause a cancer in the locker room and destroy the team, others believe they are good enough for a wild card berth but eventually bow out to make room for the contenders, the Steelers, Colts, Patriots & Chargers. Not this year, not these Bengals. This year, this Bengals team has something many other Bengals teams were missing. The one thing that cant be bought and cant be taught. Redemption.
Take a look at this roster. Were to start. Up and down it reads like a who's who of rejects. From Cedric Benson, Pacman Jones, Rey Maualuga, Frostee Rucker, Bernard Scott, Johnathan Joseph, Tank Johnson and Matt Jones. They all have charges ranging from DUI's, firearm offenses and cocaine possession to name a few. This team makes the Raiders of old look like a bunch of girl scouts. Throw in two chatter mouth ego maniacs like Owens and Ochocinco and at first glance most would think this looks like a recipe for disaster. Most will be proven wrong. Why? Marvin Lewis and his plan for redemption.
These guys have been thrown away, discarded by their teams, agents and coaches, they have been written off by society and the media as loud mouth, ego driven, selfish losers. Nobody believes in them. Until now. Marvin Lewis is a players coach. He is a mentor, someone who will stand by his players and earn their respect. He is capable of making them believe they are winners, that they have something to prove, that they must redeem themselves.
Once you get past the rap sheets and the chatter you have a bunch of guys who are on their last chance at making it in the league. They are desperate, talented and will want to prove their critics wrong. Plant the seed of redemption from a motivator like Lewis and this will be a hungry team with a very good D and what should be a better offense. This kind of motivation and talent can make a team very dangerous and carry them very late in the season. Perhaps as 85 predicts all the way to Dallas, Texas on Feb 6 2011.