So what? You say.
As Key says on ESPN, "COME ON, MAN!"
I'm a Bengals fan. Any time we can bring home the division title, it's a great occasion.
Do I have any illusions that they'll turn into this year's version of the Arizona Cardinals or New York Giants and turn around late losing streak to surge through the playoffs and to the Super Bowl? No.
Again, I'm a Bengals fan. I know better.
Hope doesn't live here.
But, still, the AFC North title will be a great feat, especially after struggling to win all of four games last year.
It doesn't seem that long ago - maybe a month or so - that the Bengals sat at 7-2 after thumping the Steelers at home and sitting firmly in control of the AFC North. Now they are 9-5, coming off their first back to back losses this year. Though I took a lot of grief, I never expected the Bengals to beat the Vikings at the Metrodome. I did hope it'd be closer, though.
Then I was happy with their effort in the loss to the Chargers, despite some very, very ugly football in the third quarter. Still, they lost on a last second field goal.
The loss that really hurts is the loss to Oakland that kind of started this downward spiral. One reason I can live with the loss to the Vikings was that on that day the Vikes just were a better team. One reason I can live with the loss to the Chargers was that despite playing some dreadful ball, the Bengals still stood toe to toe with them. But the Raiders? The Bengals dominated that game. Turnovers and miscues killed them. They fumbled on a first and goal. The didn't protect Palmer. They gave up a huge fourth down play. And they fumbled away a kick off with under two minutes to go that cost them the game. They should never have lost that game. At least the Raiders came through later for us with some huge victories over our divisional foe the Steelers and took down the Broncos (whom I would love to see return to PBS in two weeks for a rematch of that week one loss thanks to the Immaculate Deflection).
This week, with a win over the lowly Chiefs, the Bengals could bring home their third second division title of the decade. It would be their third since I was a junior in high school.
I guess that's the best way to illustrate why the AFC North title is such a big deal to Bengaldom.