The Eyes of the NFL Tiger
~ Amy Lignor
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are a perfect NFL match up. Or…were they? Experts speak about how people are no longer ‘feeling’ the Patriots. Odd, considering they were the same exact people who called for the Patriots at the beginning of the season to easily win the AFC Championship.
Now, they meet the Bengals at home. No problem. Brady is 90%+ regarding home game wins. And besides, it’s the Bengals, right? Oh, wait…the Bengals are 3-0. WHAT? Exactly. Things have changed; the world continues to turn on its axis and at this point there are two –
only 2 – undefeated teams in the NFL right this second (Sunday, October 5, 2014, 10:15 am). Now, the undefeated teams were supposed to be Seattle Seahawks and, perhaps, the Patriots. Or, maybe Peyton and his Broncos would sneak in as undefeated, or maybe the 49ers (who experts called to win the Super Bowl) would be 3-0 right now. But, they can all say they have not done what they originally thought they would do out of the gate. Will they get to the end? They sure have a shot. But so does…completely underrated and undefeated team – Cincinnati Bengals.
No one would have called this one. And this weekend both undefeated teams in the NFL meet up with some true heavyweights. In the Bengals case, they are meeting the Patriots who are coming off a hideous loss of 41-14 to Kansas City where, worse yet, Tom Brady actually saw the bench. The Patriots will be fired up beyond belief. But are they good enough? Absolutely. Tom Brady had a bad day – happens to everyone. But the humility that the Bengals are operating on is something refreshing in the NFL, and may just make everyone eat crow.
Impressive is an understatement; of course, they are an underrated team, but the players, coaches and even fans of the Bengals, know that you can look wonderful and then the axis turns and you end up on the downside as the season progresses. They have a 3-0 record, yes, but even the people in the Bengals organization continue to speak about how they need to get better in order to get it all.
Just recently, veteran cornerback Terence Newman, spoke about the fact that the Bengals look at the film and know they have to get better. They go into the locker room; they prepare during the week for the next team; and, constantly want to improve. They want to push their offense, inspire their defense, and even make their special teams better. They are not looking at headlines…not yet. They are not looking at being on all the ads…yet. These are not the 49ers led by Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. These are not the Dallas Cowboys led by Aikman, Irvin, and Smith. BUT, these are the Bengals who deserve a whole heck of a lot more respect from the rest of the world because they are most definitely contenders. And if they keep operating on that humility, knowing they need to work hard in order to break out of the pack and show everyone they are a force to be reckoned with, than they may have a far bigger shot at the Super Bowl than others (more likely) to be there. Why? Because the ‘more likely’ candidates believe that they are stars. Some have even proven to be stars (AKA: Manning and Brady). But, perhaps 2014 will not be their year.
Here are the facts: The Bengals are allowing 11.0 points per game. That’s a heck of a stat, but to keep that, they are going to need to outshine the ‘big boys’ that always make headlines. It is probably easier to be the ones not in the spotlight. They will not be getting hit with the bad press like Brady or Manning or Seattle does when they have a bad game. Therefore, they can concentrate on the game instead of the backlash.
Aaron Rodgers from the Packers said: Relax. In the last two weeks, he proved why everyone should do exactly that. People talk about Tom Brady not being with New England one day because of one bad game, as if that one game erases the five AFC championships and three Super Bowl rings. This is another time where people should simply relax.
But there is one thing they should always keep in mind. If you relax too much, if you believe the press that states you are among the ‘best of the best’, a more humble team that is doing everything BUT relaxing may just finally get the respect they deserve and hoist the Lombardi trophy this time around.
‘The Eye of the Tiger’ is a song; but the heart and soul the Bengals seem to own right now is very, very real.