CINCINNATI — Rolling Stone writer Michael Weinreb has asked the question on the lips of every Cincinnati Bengals fan the day after the team’s 36-21 win over the Kansas City Chiefs: “Are You Ready to Believe in the Cincinnati Bengals?”
He also sounds like so many fans when discussing the team’s strong start by throwing cold water on the franchise’s post-season prospects.
"The Bengals are 4-0 after yesterday's win over the Kansas City Chiefs, which may feel familiar because it is familiar. This is what the Bengals do – they look good until they don’t look good anymore, especially around the time the playoffs begin,” Weinreb writes.
The writer, in true Bengal fan fashion, then goes on to temper his doubts concerning the team’s strong start with what can be the cruelest of human emotions, hope.
“Now Dalton, in his fifth professional season, is playing with more confidence than he ever has before: Through his first four games, he has the second-highest quarterback rating in the league, behind Aaron Rodgers, and has thrown nine touchdown passes and only one interception,” Weinreb goes on to muse.
Or, no? Again, Weinreb brings out the wet blanket. He essentially states that just because we haven’t seen “Bad Andy” play this year doesn’t mean he’s not lurking somewhere, waiting to strike at the perfect time and dash fans’ hopes.
Then again, “given the inherent weaknesses of every other team in the AFC North this season, the Bengals finally have a chance to win the division and avoid the Wild Card game that has proven their white whale” the writer flip-flops.
With all this back-and-forth, perhaps the bigger question should be, will this be the season team owner Mike Brown and coach Marvin Lewis will tout longterm strategy and team building, or will the rest of us finally accept the certifiable insanity of “hope” and its accompanying heartbreak, yet again.
By the end of his piece, Weinreb rides that fence as well.
“So maybe this is Marvin Lewis’ best team yet, but it’s always hard to tell with the Bengals – it’s hard to know whether this is an admirable display of patience or a textbook display of insanity,” he concludes.
With bated breath, fans wait for next week’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. The common wisdom is the Seahawks will be the first team to test the Bengals this year. A Bengals win will fan those flames of hope a little higher for sure.
Win or lose though, we still have three-fourths of a season for an answer to all those lingering doubts, and reserved hopes.
Right now, sitting 4-0, it feels like we’re in for a long ride in Cincinnati.