Losses by Bengals, Steelers not surprising
Winning on the road is tough in the NFL, but yesterday in Oakland and Kansas City, the Bengals and the Steelers showed us a blueprint of how to play football unprepared, unaccountable and at a level that is unacceptable for a playoff-contending football team.
One thing we have to understand about this league is that no matter what records are attached to a team’s name—such as the Raiders and the Chiefs—these guys still are professional football players. They are still being paid to play, and if you give them an open door or show them an opportunity, they will take advantage of it.
Sure, Cincy and Pittsburgh are much more talented on paper when looking at these matchups yesterday, but an NFL game isn’t like the University of Florida against some 1-AA team scheduled to build up Heisman stats. No, these games are hard to win, and these two losses serve as a perfect example of how fragile Sundays are at this level and how serious you have to play to win.
Penalties, turnovers, blown assignments. Those will get you beat no matter what team you are playing—even if it is going to be drafting in the top ten come April.
And that is why I am so unimpressed with both squads right now.
I will agree that we like to talk down to the Raiders, but that is because they are dysfunctional—even delusional at times—when it comes to their franchise. But, that doesn’t hide the fact that they do have talent on that club, and the QB change not only lifted this team in the locker room, but also showed us that Oakland can compete with a 7-2 Bengals team if they make plays in the fourth quarter
In Kansas City, you have a first-year coach going against the defending champs with most likely the best defense in the league. But, Ben Roethlisberger throws two interceptions, the Steelers commit eight penalties and allow Chris Chambers to weave through their attacking defense to set up the winning score. You serious?
And that’s just it. I still see Pittsburgh and Cincy as possible playoff teams, but when you go on the road in this league and don’t play at the proper level that it takes to win, you will go home with a loss—a bad loss. You have to put teams like K.C. and Oakland away. Make them think about offseason vacations and show them that they can’t compete with you. Don’t give them the opportunity to spoil a playoff run—because these two teams can’t afford that right now.
Plus, don’t forget the importance of football at this time of year in the NFL. Losing divisional games is bad, but so is losing games within the conference, because when the teams are laid out at the end of December, that is what they use as head-to-head comparison and potential tie-breakers.
I am shocked that both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati played as poorly as they did yesterday, but I am not shocked at the results. Mistakes kill you in this league.
You have to come to play every Sunday or this is what will happen.
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Bowen and Bunting talk Week 11 action and the playoff push on The Cover 2 Podcast.