The League

Gene Wang
Fantasy Guru

Gene Wang

A sports staff writer at The Washington Post

Not buying the Bengals


The Cincinnati Bengals are leading the AFC North. Take a moment to digest that reality. Halfway through the season, Cincinnati is 5-2 and technically ahead of Pittsburgh, which also is 5-2 but has a worse record within the division.

It's a fine story now, but Cincinnati is one of those teams you just can't trust. The Bengals have disappointed so many times that you're almost waiting for them to collapse. This is, after all, an organization that has had two winning seasons in 20 years.

The fall may well begin on Sunday against Baltimore. The Ravens have payback in mind after losing to Cincinnati, 17-14, in Week 5, when Cedric Benson became the first running back in 40 games to rush for 100 yards against Baltimore.

Then next week it's Pittsburgh, which also has a grudge to settle after losing to the Bengals, 23-20, in Week 3. Following the Steelers, Cincinnati has to fly across the country to play at Oakland. Just ask the Philadelphia Eagles how difficult that road trip can be.

Cincinnati fans have grown accustomed to heartbreak, and no doubt many are preparing for a second-half swoon because even when things are going good for the Bengals, it seems circumstances eventually conspire against them.

Remember Cincinnati's 2005 season when it went 11-5 and made the playoffs as a wild card the AFC North champions? It was a feel-good story until quarterback Carson Palmer suffered a severe knee injury in the Bengals' first-round loss to Pittsburgh.

Or what about in 1989, when the Bengals played in Super Bowl XXIII? Not only did they lose to San Francisco, 20-16, but Cincinnati fans remember fullback Stanley Wilson missing the game after relapsing on cocaine.

This season, Bengals fans are energized with the resurgence of Chad Ochocinco and Benson, who was on track to be one of the biggest busts in recent memory until his reversal of fortune in Cincinnati. The offense is clicking with Palmer back in top form, and the defense is ranked fifth in per points per game.

But as good as it is now for a franchise with a long history of failure, the second half of the season may be just another in a series of letdowns.

By Gene Wang  |  November 4, 2009; 9:43 AM ET  | Category:  Cincinnati Bengals Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Fact check: The Bengals made it into the playoffs in 2005 as a DIVISION WINNER, not a wild card. As a Steelers fan, I remember that season, and that game in particular, very well.

Posted by: bsrasmus | November 4, 2009 10:54 AM

I'm not really sure what the point of this article is. Granted the Bengals have had some hard times, but there are several teams in the league that haven't made it to one Super Bowl let alone two. I also don't remember people kicking the Cardinals last year when they turned things around after many losing seasons.

I think it's just a case of taking the easy way out and picking on a team because everyone else does. You also have your facts wrong about the 2005 season when the Bengals WON the AFC North (that's why they hosted the game - too obvious of a hint I guess).

Well I guess you cant't expect much from a fantasy writer.

Go redskins! now there's a good team

Posted by: ewm1950 | November 4, 2009 10:57 AM

The Bengals can't win AFC North title. Why?
Because they're in the AFC Central dummy!!!

Posted by: johnmdestefano | November 4, 2009 11:20 AM

Hey JOHNMDESTEFANO - you really should double check your facts before calling someone a dummy.

The AFC Central has been defunct since 2002 when the NFL realigned to 4 divisions in each league: East, North, South and West.

Posted by: ewm1950 | November 4, 2009 11:47 AM

Maybe instead of asking the Eagles why they sucked so bad and failed against Oakland, I'll ask one of the teams that has destroyed Oakland this year, like maybe the Jets or Chargers. If a trip to Oakland is the biggest obstacle in the Bengals' way after Baltimore and Pittsburgh, I feel very confident that we'll make the playoffs. Do you get paid for this drivel?

Posted by: finnigan37 | November 4, 2009 12:07 PM

Is this guy kidding? Did he write this during homeroom before first bell? Blatant mistakes, lack of evidence and simply no comprehension for the subject. Can you give a reason the Bengals will fail, other than that you just think it will happen? They've beaten 2 of the 3 teams you've listed and the third team's quarterback plays worse than Kyle Boller warms up ( This is the best defense they've had in years and their offense is only getting better with the hopeful additions of Chase Coffman and Andre Smith.

Posted by: BEANOBOY35 | November 4, 2009 2:17 PM

Your title of fantasy guru reminds of those legends baseball camps and fantasy rockstar camps. You talking intelligently about football would indeed be a fantasy.

With a sample size of 1, statistics mean nothing. The 2009 Bengals have choked away as many playoff games as the 2009 Saints or Colts because it hasn't happened yet. So bringing up a game in 1989 when Carson Palmer was 10 isn't really relevant. I bet you picked the Packers to win it all this year because they know how to win the big one like in the Lombardi and Starr days.

Posted by: ASM1987 | November 4, 2009 10:56 PM

Hey Gene-

Glad you decided to think hard all the way back to 2005. It must have been tough looking up the facts surrounding the Bengals AFC North CHAMPIONSHIP that season. At the very least you could have recalled the fact that the Steelers were the first #6 seed wild card team to win the super bowl. Think before you insult and write a meaningless peice Gene.

Posted by: swoopaloop | November 5, 2009 8:53 AM

Hey, Wang, are you buying the Bengals yet?

Posted by: jasonew | November 9, 2009 5:12 PM

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