The Bengals lost to the Jets in Week Eight and got pasted by the Browns in Week Nine in a pair of results that dropped them from AFC darlings into the deep group of teams fighting for playoff position at the turn to the second half of the season.
A third straight loss won’t come this week because the Bengals are on a bye and defensive lineman D.J. Reader said the break has a lot of player “looking themselves in the mirror” before returning to the field. He also noted that the Bengals will have everything in their hands once they do get back in action.
“We have a bunch of AFC opponents left,” Reader said, via Laurel Pfahler of the Dayton Daily News. “Everything we want is right in front of us. Everybody we play is in our division. Everybody that’s sitting at 5-4 with us, we have to play all of those people. It’s an exciting feeling. You know it’s on you and you much rather have it that way then sit there and hoping a bunch of teams lose. That’s a rough feeling when you have to sit there and hope that’s going to happen and this is going to happen, we have everything in front us. That means a lot as a player because you know it’s on you. That’s the way you want it.”
Reader’s right about how the schedule sets up. The Bengals play the Raiders in Week 11 and also have games with the Steelers, Chargers, Broncos, Ravens, Chiefs, and Browns. All of those teams have winning records right now, so every win the Bengals can get will have outsize impact on the battle for playoff spots in the AFC.