Week 4 Shocker: Cincinnati Bengals Rank No. 1 for Defense

Ezri Silver@Maalot20Correspondent IOctober 4, 2011

Team NFL Rankings after Week 4 (Source: NFL.com)
Team NFL Rankings after Week 4 (Source: NFL.com)

Who would have even believed that the Bengals would be number one in anything.  Even with a somewhat light schedule through Week 4, much has to be said for holding down a San Francisco 49ers team that went into Philadelphia yesterday and came away with a win, along with an upset of the upstart Buffalo Bills.

In many ways, this team is reminiscent of 2009 which ranked fourth but no Bengals team in over a quarter of a century has occupied the number one position for total defense since the 1983 Bengals, according to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Bengals — one year removed from the playoffs in a strike-shortened 1982 season.

In 2009 the Bengals were ranked fourth in total defense — the last playoff season.

Yet, in a mark of sobering reality, in the 44-year history of the Bengals which have featured nine playoff seasons, only three of those appearances have been with a defense in the top ten.  In fact, in the two Superbowl seasons — 1981 and 1988 respectively — the offense was second and first in the league respectively, while the defense ranked 12th and 15th. In total, over the nine playoff seasons the average offense ranking was 7.4 while the defense was 15.2.

With an offense ranked 20th in the league, the only way the Bengals will see success is if Marvin Lewis has finally brought the karma of the 2000 Super Bowl champion Ravens who ranked second in the league in defense while ranking 16th on offense.

Yet as defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was interpreted in the aforementioned Joe Reedy article, a number one ranking after four weeks is "cheesy."

To many long suffering fans, cheesy is better an empty mouse trap.  Your neck (a.k.a. heart) may still be broken, but at least saw some beautiful cheese...