All Bengals, all the time.
I’m here to report that, for the moment, I’m all outta platitudes. I mean, how many ways can we say terrific and make terrific still sound interesting? As we advance to the divisional round, the difference between opining and fawning becomes very slight.
I don’t fawn. I mean, I try not to.
We know already that Joe is a saint. I wrote that before the season, I’m still writing it. I don’t hear anybody questioning it now. Similarly, the We Love Us angle has been noted and praised. Zac’s Culture Club is alive and well and a tangible reason for The Men’s ’21 success.
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They’re ahead of schedule and playing with house money. At the very least, a loss in Nashville Saturday will mean only that the countdown for next season (and even better days) has begun. As long as Burrow is here and playing, the potential for good things exists.
So, let’s try something different today, Mobsters. (The Morning Line=Morning Mobsters=Mobsters, for the uninitiated.) Let’s take a shot at objectivity. Rather than restate the rosy obvious while heaping further praise on the scrappy local 11, let’s play it down the middle.
It’ll be different, if nothing else.
Without further ado. . .
TEN PLAYOFF THINGS.
1. The Bengals have had a charmed season. Even now, as they deal with two key injuries, to Ogunjobi and Hendrickson. IMO, it’s still rolling, with this week’s assignment. The Titans aren’t as good as either KC or Buffalo. Statistically, they’re average across the board, except in running and stopping the run. They’re 25th – 25th! – in passing yards allowed. The Titans run well (5th overall) but stopping the run is something the Bengals are good at (also 5th). It’s a favorable Men matchup.
2. The Bengals don’t get Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes. They get Ryan Tannehill, a caretaker QB who isn’t asked to win games, i.e. elevate his team. He’s 19th among QBs in Yards Per Attempt.
3. That said, the Titans have more than a few nice Ws. In one four-game stretch, they beat Buffalo, KC, Indy and the Rams. They also beat the 49ers.
4. The Bengals got a huge break with the no-call on the TD pass to Boyd. The whistle sounded before Boyd caught the ball. The rule says the play ends there. It was 3rd-and-4. It'd still have been 3rd down. But imagine the Bengals kicking a field goal there. Ponder how that could have changed the Raiders thinking on their last drive, down 3 points and not 7.
5. Maybe after years of bad karma, the Bengals were owed that. And honestly, much more. 5A… ESPN reports that the officials who worked that game won’t be working any others this season.
6. Big kudos to Zac Taylor for giving a game ball to the fans Saturday night. And to Uzomah for doing the same, and Huber for being part of the fun. Think about it: When was the last time any team/league did anything for its fans? Except raise ticket prices and charge them $12 for a craft beer? What group of people is more taken for granted? Taylor said balls-for-fans will become a staple after every Bengals playoff W. What an outstanding idea.
7. My man Cigar John at The Party Source reports booming sales on cigars smoked by Burrow and Mixon. Burrow favors a stick that was custom made for NBA legend Karl Malone. It’s the same one the QB burned after LSU won the national championship. Mixon likes a flavored (yuck) cigar. A Tabak of some sort, I believe. PS can’t keep either on its shelves.
8. Losing Ogunjobi is a big problem if Derrick Henry returns this week, which he is expected to do. The Titans went 6-2 before Henry got hurt, and 6-3 after. On the face of it, getting him back doesn’t seem that vital. Tell that to the guys who have to tackle him in the 4th quarter. He is a large human being.
9. Losing Hendrickson is even worse. He’s had a monster season. Teams are starting to double-team him. If he can’t go, generating a consistent pass rush could be problematic.
10. Can we expect a decent Bengals contingent to Nashville? Are there tickets available? It’s only 4 ½ hours, like driving to Pittsburgh. Anyone making the trip?
AS FOR THE REST OF THE WEEKEND. . .
Brady carved up Philly without Antonio Brown, Chris Goodwin and All Pro tackle Tristan Wirfs. Gronk is still a threat but man, he looks slow.
I love watching the San Fran Shanahans. That first drive Sunday at Dallas was pure poetry. Ja’Marr Chase could be Cincinnati’s Deebo Samuel, if the Bengals needed him to be. They don’t, and he’s too valuable to lose while running a jet sweep.
BTW, Nantz and Romo were a little over the top in their excitement for the Cowboys late in the game, doncha think? Romo played for Dallas, Nantz is a Texan. When the Cowboys appeared on the verge of a stunning comeback W, those guys were yelling like they were in Jerry Jones’ box.
And once again, the Cowboys hype machine loses to reality.
I guess we won’t be talking much now about Belichick’s game-planning prowess in the postseason.
Man, I am beyond grateful The Men aren’t playing in Buffalo this weekend.
Taylor’s money quote from Saturday came when he answered a question about Burrow’s scrambling, gravity-defying TD throw to Boyd:
Q: We’ve talked in the past about Joe throwing the ball away on scrambles like the one he made to Boyd for the TD. Did you initially think he should have thrown it away in that moment?
Taylor : “I think I’ve learned ... I went through it last year, and there’s probably been moments this year. But the more I’ve been around, I’ve learned to just shut my mouth and let the magic occur.”
Personally speaking, as someone who arrived here the year the Bengals went to their second Super Bowl, and has seen 99 percent of their games since, in person, I’m thinking of writing a book. Working title: At Least I Got Paid.
Actually, I’m not thinking of that. It’s a great title, though.
The Washington “Redskins’’ are no more. But the Tomahawk Chop is still going strong in Kansas City. Huh.
CAN’T SAY ENOUGH. . . Uzomah wore a Rodney Holman #82 jersey to the postgame presser. He explained:
“Our meeting room has Pro Bowlers’ names on the wall. I have seen Rodney Holman’s name since I’ve been here — seven years. I did some research. He was the last Bengals tight end to win a playoff game. He went to the Super Bowl with the Bengals. I thought it was a nice tribute for things to come, and to pay homage for the way we want things to be.”
Classy, charming, perfect.
PKING ADVANCING MEN-TITANS:
I think this is my quick look at Cincinnati vs. Tennessee. What can the Titans get out of Derrick Henry, and is it a disaster if he isn’t back near full strength? Henry’s been out for 10 weeks now after surgery to repair a foot fracture, and the Titans seem optimistic he can play in this game. But if he’s not a workhorse, and I wouldn’t expect him to be, that could really impact the fourth quarter of a close game against an explosive team.
Henry will help. Duh. But the Titans did well without him. To wit, courtesy of Fansided:
The Titans would go on to average 135.8 rushing yards per game, only 11.8 yards less than the 147.6 they were averaging with Henry in the lineup.
In their games with Henry, the Titans managed to have a higher time possession than their opponents in six of those eight games. Without him, it was much the same, holding the time of possession lead in six of those nine remaining games.
Without Henry, Tennessee beat the Rams, Saints and 49ers.
AS FOR NOVAK DJOKOVIC. . . Australia stuck with its principles and made the hard decision to send him packing. Justice was served.
TUNE O’ THE DAY. . . He’d be 94 today. Actually, the Rev. Martin Luther King’s birthday was Jan. 15, not today. Today’s the holiday. All we can do is wonder what the world might have been like with him in it all these years.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Amen and amen.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: NFL Playoffs: Cincinnati Bengals analysis, Divisional Round preview