Cincinnati Bengals Update
Published: Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 16:10
The hometown Cincinnati Bengals evened their record at 2-2 on the season Sunday with a win over the previously undefeated Buffalo Bills.
After one of the most successful
seven year stints of any quarterback
and wide receiver duo in Bengals history, Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco left town this offseason. Ochocinco left to play for the New England Patriots while Palmer left for early retirement
in sunny California.
Their replacements were two unproven rookies: Andy Dalton of TCU and A.J. Green of Georgia.
Due to the NFL lockout, the duo of rookies drafted to lead the Cincinnati passing game had little time to learn the offense and get familiar with each other. They looked ugly in early preseason games, but showed promise in an improved effort in week three of the preseason in a win over the Carolina Panthers.
To begin the regular season, a narrow victory over the lowly Browns was easy for critics to brush off. Missed defensive assignments
were so blatantly obvious
by the Cleveland secondary that even the most ill-informed of "Who Dey Nation" couldn't put too much stock into the season-opening win.
The Bengals followed up their win in Cleveland with a loss in Denver, a 4-12 team in 2010. In week three, they returned home to a half-empty Paul Brown Stadium to face the 49ers.
Against San Francisco, the Bengals offense failed to score a single touchdown in a 13-8 loss, settling for two field goals and taking
advantage of a safety forced by the defense.
This Sunday, however, eyebrows
were raised when the Bengals knocked off the undefeated
Bills as the Bengals offense came alive. Dalton threw for 298 yards, Green caught and accounted
for 119 of those passing yards, while runningback Cedric Benson added 104 yards on the ground.
With only four of the Bengals' remaining 12 games against teams with winning records, and only a half game out of first place in the AFC North Division, the Bengals playoff hopes are actually stunningly
It's surprisingly hard to imagine
a scenario where the Bengals aren't in playoff contention going
into big divisional matchups in weeks 10 and 11 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, respectively.
Perhaps the biggest question mark, however, is if and when will disgruntled fans start showing up again?
Currently, the Bengals are dead last in NFL attendance, averaging just 43,363 fans per game. Fans have understandably stayed away from Paul Brown Stadium in the season's first two home games, but how much success will it take for fans to return?