The week leading up to Halloween was a mighty fine one for those of us in Bengals land (all six of us). The Bengals had won four in a row. Andy Dalton, our often beleaguered quarterback, was playing the best football of his life, actually earning AFC Offensive Player of the Month.
I knew that would be a curse. Ever since then, Dalton's play has been absolutely offensive indeed: six interceptions and just two touchdowns (both in their last loss to Baltimore).
The horror began Halloween night in Miami, which for the Bengals has never been an easy place to win. But it should have been. Our defense smothered the Miami offense, only giving up 13 points. But thanks to a 94 yard interception return and a safety in over time, the Bengals lost 20-22.
To be fair to Dalton, his receivers dropped a number of passes. AJ Green, the Bengals all world receiver, dropped one after the cornerback fell down. It would have either been a touchdown or a very big gain. But he dropped it. Likewise, Mohamad Sanu let one bounce off his chest at about the Miami five yard line that would've given Cincy a first and goal. Instead, it resulted in a turnover.
Things weren't any better last week in Baltimore, where the Bengals held the Ravens entire offense to under 200 total yards. Unfortunately, Dalton threw another three interceptions and had a fumble on top of five sacks. The sloppy Bungals also had almost 200 yards in penalties (the killer was a 68 yard pass interference call on safety Reggie Nelson that led to Baltimore's first TD).
To make matters worse, our starters have been dropping like flies.
In their win over Detroit, the Bengals lost their best corner, Leon Hall, to a torn achilles. Then in a win over the Jets, the Bengals lost their starting middle linebacker, Ray Maualuga, to a knee injury. He will be back in two weeks, though. But that doesn't help us now in this two game skid.
Worst of all, against Miami the Bengals lost their all world defensive tackle, Geno Atkins, to a torn ALC, which shelves him for the rest of the season.
The Bengals have also been without their left tackle Andrew Whitworth and tight end Jermaine Gresham too.
Hopefully, they can pull it together to beat the rival Browns today in Cincinnati.
But it won't be easy.
I know. It's the Browns. Right?
They are on at least their sixth quarterback and fourth coach it seems.
But they handed Cincy their worst loss of the season several weeks ago.
And the Browns are coming off their bye week while the Bengals are limping into theirs after this game.
There is, though, a little bit of hope for Bengals fans.
First, it's at home. The Browns have only won twice here during Marvin Lewis' tenure in Cincinnati. Second, the Browns have never swept a Marvin Lewis team.
Third, the Bengals are 4-0 at home this year and play their best football in "the Jungle." The Browns, on the other hand, are 1-3 on the road.
Fourth, we are playing the Browns. For as inconsistent and frustrating as the Bengals have played in the last two games, you know the Browns are due for some of that same type of play. They can't put together two wins back to back can they?
If they Bengals drop this one, their season isn't over. But they would be a half game behind the Browns since the Browns would've swept them in the course of the season. So technically their season wouldn't be over (and it'd be a shame to have it over after sitting nicely at 6-2 just 14 days ago), but it would be a tough road to the division title.
If they do manage to eek out a win, it would be big. They'd head to their bye week on a good note. Then they could recover and head down the stretch where they have four of their final 6 games at home. And only one of those teams, the Colts, happens to have a winning record.
What is so nerve wracking is if Dalton plays better - especially if he plays the way he did against Detroit and New York - they could run the table.
But if he doesn't pick his game up - give how beat up our team is right now - I cold see them dropping their remaining games.
If that happens, that would cost Marvin Lewis his job and likely have the Bengals seriously considering drafting a quarterback in the first round of the 2014 draft in May.
I do know this, if they don't win today, I'm done watching any games this fall! So maybe it wouldn't be such a horrible thing after all. I could get a lot more work done!
Still, it's tough not to cheer for the Bungals. Who Dey!