Despite his faults (of which there are many), no one can dispute the overwhelmingly positive impact Marvin Lewis has had on the Cincinnati Bengals franchise. Taking over the worst professional team in all of sports in 2003, Lewis has become the winning-est coach in franchise history, and stands at the precipice of a third playoff berth in seven seasons with a completely retooled offense led by the two most dynamic rookies in recent memory.
This team wasn’t supposed to do anything but secure the number one pick in the 2012 draft. In fact, they were expected to produce the end of Lewis’s tenure and a return to the dark ages of the 1990’s. But a funny thing happened on the way to loserville. Lewis successfully navigated through the rough seas of change, and managed to hit not one but two home runs in the draft.
The Bengals have a bright future led by Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. They have young play-makers on defense, and a bevvy of draft picks ahead of them. Gotta wear shades.
But despite the miracles St. Marvin has managed to perform, the one thing that’s eluded him these years has been a signature, spring-board season: that team that defies the odds, spits in the face of adversity, and overachieves. That is how dynasties are formed.
His previous playoff teams, led by the stoic Carson Palmer and the chatty Chad the Ocho have been full of flash and were surely entertaining, but they lacked the grit to win the last round. I like this group better in the ring, and I think that Marvin is due.
So, I can mention how the Bengal defense needs to rattle and confuse Joe Flacco with blitzes and shut down Ray Rice. I can harp on the importance of ball security for Cedric Benson, and for the offensive line to protect Andy. I can plead for Jermaine Gresham to have another big day, and for Jerome Simpson to pull another trick out of his hat.
But screw that. Just go out there and win. Find a way to beat the Ravens, then beat Houston and we’ll see what happens in the divisional round. Who knows what this young team can do? It all starts Sunday.
Lewis is due.
My prediction: Bengals 23, Ravens 20