By Conrad Clowers
Herald Sports Contributor
Everyone knows the old saying “Respect is something that is earned. Not just given.’’
Any show dealing with the NFL showcases seems to go out of their way to showcase that Cincinnati is not a team highly thought of. Though many will give the team a glare of hope with a generational talent like quarterback Joe Burrow, you’d be pressed to find high expectations from anyone outside of Cincinnati.
Vegas is no different. There are 32 total teams in the National Football League. Before the season started September 12, the Bengals had anywhere from the 27th longest odds to the 30th longest odds to win the Super Bowl. After trending upward in the early part of last decade, Cincinnati had opened eyes. Never had the franchise, which had been around since 1968, made the playoffs five straight seasons. Cincinnati accomplished the feat in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2014, and 2015. Since that time, a long line of team failures plagued the franchise. The team lowballed Pro Bowl tackle Andrew Whitworth after the 2016 season. Cinti felt the tackle’s best days were behind him as he was well into his 30’s. Whitworth signed with Los Angeles and became an All-Pro with LA. Cincinnati also misfired on drafting lineman Cedric Obueghi and Jake Fisher in top rounds. Neither panned out and were soon off the team.
In addition to the bad drafts and the non-signing of Whitworth, injuries to key players took their toll. Lack of depth and inconsistent play led the team right into the gutter.
Cincinnati made a choice to part with Marvin Lewis and hire Zac Taylor. Thus far going into 3 years and a few games into his tenure, Taylor has won only seven games.
As long as Cincinnati stays out of the playoffs and posts more losses than wins, they will continue to be mocked by National writers, NFL TV show hosts, and fans in other cities.
National respect doesn’t start with single occurrences of wins. Rather, trends and patterns of wins, multiple playoff seasons, and defeating the elites of the NFL, such as Tampa bay, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore regularly.
The culture of winning has long eluded the Bengals. This past weekend was a typical Bengal Sunday. The team lost to the Chicago Bears in a perfectly winnable game 20-17. A play here and a play there would have vaulted Cincinnati into the team’s second win. Instead, a questionable game plan allowed Chicago to come out with the victory.
Cincinnati will face Pittsburg, Jacksonville, and Green Bay in their next three games. Pittsburgh and Green Bay have long been two of the powers of the NFL. Victories over one or both could go a long way in gaining the trust and respect of Bengal fans. Until that trend of winning games and winning seasons start, Cincinnati will be at the bottom of the expectation board and have the longest odds to do anything in Vegas. Let alone win.