By Conrad Clowers

Cincinnati Herald Contributor

Only the Detroit Lions and the Baltimore Ravens keep the Bengals from yelling “uncle’’ on the 2017 season. If they could, they would probably just forfeit those last two games. Not since the 2010 season that ended with a record of 4-12 have things been this bad in Cincinnati.

For the second straight season the Bengals will not be in the playoffs, and for the second straight season Cincinnati will not have a winning record.

You can pick your poison as to why the season went down the tubes. As of right now, here is the starter list of Bengals that are not playing due to one injury reason or another. Ready? goes. Vontaze Burfict, Joe Mixon, Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Nick Vigil, and Shawn Williams. This is not to mention starting Bengals that have been placed on injured reserve (Jeremy Hill and Tyler Eifert). Nearly half the Bengals starting defense is out.

Let’s face it. Even when all the aforementioned players were playing the Bengals were not setting the NFL on fire The team was barely hanging on to playoff hopes. Since these players have been sidelined, Cincy has not been competitive. Blowout losses to the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings have been dull non-competitive games.

The biggest cloud hanging over downtown is the status of Marvin Lewis. An NFL report came out this past weekend indicating Lewis would be stepping down as Bengals head coach after 14 years. The fact that Lewis would likely be gone was not surprising. While Lewis said there was no truth to the rumor. It’s hard to see a scenario that he stays as the Bengals headman.

Cincinnati troubles started last off season when they lost their best two offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth and Keven Zeitler to free agency. The results have been disappointing to say the least. The offensive line has been glaringly bad. Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher have not come close to meeting expectations. With all faith put in both, the epic fail was set with no backup plan. For improvements to be made, the positions will have to be addressed during the off-season.

It will be sad watching the Bengals try and finish out the season with Detroit and Baltimore. Normally, a win over the Lions would be a given and Baltimore would be a toe-to-toe battle.

The way things stand at this moment in the Queen City, a game with the 0-14 Cleveland Browns would likely be a pick’em in Vegas. Fittingly, the last game of the season will be played on December 31.

The only incentive Cincinnati has is to play to avoid double-digit losses as they stand at 5-9. Little reward for a team that had such high hopes.

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