While the Reds are wrapping up at least a wild card spot for the baseball playoffs, the city of Cincinnati has two quality teams to simultaneously cheer for in the months of September and October. Last night's victorious evening for Cincinnati included a Reds win over the Houston Astros and a Bengals win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. On top of that, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates both lost to help the Reds gain a full game in the NL Central. While the Reds are trying to win the division, the black and orange, just down the street, may have something even more exciting to cheer about. For just the second time at home last night, the Bengals beat the Steelers under Marvin Lewis. Prior to last night, Lewis was 1-9 at home against Pittsburgh and a much better 5-5 at their place. Cincinnati fans seemed to be much more excited to go into "The Big Ketchup Bottle" to play Roethlisberger and Company. However, after last night's win, fans can be more confident to play just about anyone at home. In week one, the Bengals had a disappointing loss to the Chicago Bears. Cincinnati had an 11 point lead in the second half in which they squandered away because of turnovers, penalties, and like many fans will say- "poor game management by Marvin". But what fans fail to realize is that the Bengals weren't given that 11 point lead. They earned it. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green connected 9 times for 162 yards and two TDs while Dalton also connected with his TEs 10 times for 82 yards. The offense was there; scoring three touchdowns on the road, especially at Soldier Field which isn't an easy task, even more so in the first game of the season. Fast forward to last night and the Bengals had a huge test against the Steelers. The difference between starting a season 1-1 vs 0-2 is huge for an NFL team. I read a stat somewhere that teams who start 0-2 since a certain year (I want to say 2001) have only a 12% chance of making the playoffs. So you could almost argue that last night's game in Cincinnati was a playoff game, because both teams were going into it 0-1. Which means, HEY! the city of Cincinnati had its first home playoff win since 1990!! But seriously, last night's win against the Steelers proved to the league many different things. 1. The Bengals have a new look, and it kind of looks like the New England Patriots. Dalton hooked up with his TEs Jermaine Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert nine times for 132 yards. Tom Brady has only completed one pass to a TE through two games and it was for five yards. For the season, Dalton has connected 19 times for 215 yards with his new dynamic duo. Using his 2 TE formation, Dalton has been able to open up the deep ball for AJ Green, and it has opened up the run game for BenJarvus Green-Ellis and rookie Giovani Bernard. Which leads me into my next point. 2. The Bengals have a one-two punch. It's not the greatest running back duo in history by any means, but when you have two TEs and a pro bowl wide receiver in AJ Green, you don't need the best RB combo. The Law Firm can still punch it out on short yardage plays and the rookie, Giovani Bernard, can get outside and cut up field as we saw last night. Bernard also had a receiving TD that fans would love to see more of in the future. Coaches like to call players like Bernard, "satellite players". Get them out in space, and let them run with the ball. I think on screens or check downs, Bernard can be a weapon to use throughout this season. 3. Ball security is important. Against Chicago, the Bengals were -2 in turnovers and only lost by three points. Last night they were +2 and won by 10. What do these stats mean? Don't turn the ball over. While that may be obvious, the key here isn't to win the turnover battle, it's just simply to not turn the ball over. The Bengals don't necessarily need takeaways to win the game. In Chicago, the Bears converted three takeaways into two touchdowns. Through two games, the Bengals have three takeaways and have converted only one into a touchdown. While it is a small sample size, the important thing to look at is that the Bengals don't NEED turnovers to win the game. They just need to hold on to the football. 4. Lastly, the Cincinnati Bengals have a full team. I've already mentioned the running backs and the TEs, but the Bengals have a full cast of players that make up for a potential play-off run. They have an experienced quarterback who hasn't even reached his full potential (or won a playoff game, but he's due for one). They have the down-field threat who hasn't reached his potential yet because Dalton hasn't reached his. The Bengals defensive line is arguably the best in the league, but hasn't shown it yet this season. And their secondary has veterans all over the place that includes Leon Hall, Terrance Newman, and even James Harrison. The Cincinnati Bengals are a force to be reckoned with this year. And if you look at their schedule after the first two weeks of the season, their toughest games are against the deceiving 2-0 Patriots (I say deceiving because nobody really knows how good they are), the Ravens twice (who just beat the Browns by only 8 points at home), the 2-0 Miami Dolphins?? That game is on a Thursday night in week nine in Miami where they've had some success. And lastly they have the Green Bay Packers next week at home, who are the toughest team on their schedule. And if you have to lose to a team, make it an NFC team like the Bears or Packers. This schedule with this team can potentially be 12-4. Let's just hope there's no limit for playoff wins in the city of Cincinnati this year, or else the pro sports teams from the Queen City might have to play rock-paper-scissors for them.


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