Santa was good to me this year. I got a Bengals toaster, a new authentic Dalton jersey and a playoff berth. It feels so good to be here. Playoff bound, a good core group of guys and a team that finally looks to be on the up-and-up. People will talk about this Sunday’s game against the Ravens and why is does or doesn’t matter (everyone knows that it does) but there is something else that has got me thinking. Who will we play the first round of the playoffs? There is possibility that we could play one of four different division leaders. What are the scenarios? What are the match-ups? Let’s find out.
Scenario: NE win, Denver win & Houston win or NE loss & Baltimore loss.
What scares me: Tom Brady and the offense.
Doesn’t bother me: Defense.
If the season ended today this is who we would be playing…and my least favorite choice. There is just something about a Tom Brady offense that scares the crap out of me. We do have one of the best defenses in the league but I don’t expect a brick wall to stop a high speed train either. The upside is that that their defense is atrocious. The only thing they got going for them on that side of the ball is their run D and that’s still 12th in the league. Still, I don’t like this match-up.
Scenario: Houston loss, NE win & Denver win.
What scares me: J.J. Watt
Doesn’t bother me: The passing game.
I do have to say that this match-up has some appeal to it considering it would be the rematch from the wild card game last year. We’re a better team now…but so is Houston. Foster is still beast and Schaub is an improvement over Yates. Then there is Watts. It’s obvious that we’ve had a problem with the defense getting to Dalton as of late and having the ‘sack master’ on the other side of the line won’t help either. I feel this match-up is a little better than NE but not my favorite.
Scenario: Denver loss & NE win.
What scares me: Peyton Manning
Doesn’t bother me: Run D
Here’s another chance at redemption. I think the game against the Broncos earlier this year was a winnable one. We had just started turning our season around and I think a rematch will show the progress we’ve made. Manning is a nightmare and containing him is a job that no one wants. The second thing that scares me the most are the DBs. They have a combined total of 16 INTs on the season. Dalton will need to thread the needle even better during this match up. A little better match-up but still not my first choice.
Scenario: Baltimore win & NE loss.
What scares me: Ray Rice
Doesn’t bother me: Everyone else.
Here it is. I think this is our best match-up. I know…it would require us to lose this week, which we should not do on purpose, but I think this is our best match-up. We’re the most familiar with this foe and have the best chance of beating in a playoff game (in my opinion). Flacco has been struggling lately and the defense just aren’t the cutthroat squad they have been in the past. I think our only challenge with this game would be Ray Rice. Containing the run and forcing the other team to throw has been a good tactic for us all year and we’d have to knock it out of the park with the Ravens to be successful.
So here it is. We’ll find out who it’s going to be by Sunday night.
P.S. Bengals beat the Ravens on Sunday 17-13.