Beware of the Bengals. I’m serious.

November 24, 2008 | Drew Forrester

I’m usually the first guy to make the call on a Monday morning when the Ravens are playing a stiff the following week.

I did it the week the Ravens played the Browns in Baltimore in September – “no need to worry about this one, Ravens win a laugher…”

I did it the week the Ravens hosted Oakland – “the Raiders will be lucky to score…Ravens romp, 24-3…”

And I did the week the Ravens played at Houston – “might be close but the Ravens will win, for sure…”

So, it makes sense that I pull out the purple crystal ball today and forecast an easy Baltimore win this Sunday in Cincinnati.  Right?  Wrong.

I think the Ravens WILL win on Sunday.  I’m not picking them to lose.

But I also think this COULD be a game that gives the Ravens trouble.

I was very confident earlier in the year when the stiffs came along.  And the Ravens handled them all.

I’m not so confident this week.

All you have to do is look at yesterday’s game in Denver and you’ll know why I’m not foaming with confidence.

Oakland 31 – Denver 10.

It’s like the Football Gods woke up on Sunday, looked at the schedule, and said, “Ah, what the hell, the old man Davis has had a tough year.  Let’s give him a win in Denver today.”

Everything Oakland did in the second half was right.  Everything Denver did was wrong.

But it *looked* odd, if you know what I mean.  They showed the Raiders sideline in the 4th quarter and even they appeared surprised.  

I sure hope the Bengals don’t have that look on Sunday in Cincinnati.

What worries me the most?

A couple of things, intangibles, mostly.  First, they last played on Thursday night of last week.  At this stage of the season, a 10-day rest really does make a difference, even when you’re 1-9-1 and going nowhere.  

Chad Johnson was benched for that game.  If he has ANY heart at all (and it’s reasonable to think that he doesn’t…), #85 stands proud on Sunday and comes out with something to prove.  As we’ve all seen with him, he’s a guy who pours it on when the going is good and a guy who vanishes when the going isn’t so good.  In other words:  don’t let him get off to a good start on Sunday.  

In general, a 1-9-1 team shouldn’t be much of a concern.  But when you’ve won one game out of your first 11, someone’s losing their job.  Unless, somehow, you’re able to string together a few wins at the end of the year to regain a measure of credibility.  The Bengals didn’t look too credible in Pittsburgh last Sunday.  You have to assume Marvin Lewis had some chunks of rear-end between his teeth after a chewing out session or two last week.  Some players MIGHT be playing for the jobs on Sunday.   That said, some guys might actually be hoping for their walking papers at season’s end.  They’d be the first ones to throw in the towel on Sunday.

And the Bengals, of course, could very easily wilt on Sunday if, for instance, they fall behind 14-0 right away.  They might look up at the clock after giving up two early touchdowns and say, “let’s just pack it in and try not get anyone hurt today…”

They have been known to quit from time to time over the years, the Bengals have.

I’m hoping the Ravens see that version of the Bengals on Sunday – the quitting version.

But I have a weird feeling – just a hunch – that Cincinnati will actually try on Sunday.  I think they’ll want to win.  I think they’ll play hard. 

I just hope the Football Gods don’t intervene.

That’s probably the only way the Ravens don’t win.

And when the Football Gods make a decision, they don’t play favorites.

Just ask the Denver Broncos.