Monday, November 05, 2001

Bengals could make playoffs with 5-4 finish

LeBeau sets higher goal

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A 5-4 finish would more likely than not put the Bengals in the playoffs. Since 1990, when the NFL expanded its playoffs to 12 teams, 59 percent of the teams that went 9-7 qualified for the postseason.

        But only four of the 38 teams to go 8-8 made the playoffs.

        The 1990 Bengals, who won the AFC Central, were one of the 9-7 teams to make the postseason. That's the last time the Bengals had a playoff game and the last time the franchise went into November with a winning record.

        Coach Dick LeBeau would like to finish 11-5, which would call for a 7-2 record the rest of the way.

        “We want to bring championship football back to the area,” he said. “And to do that, you've got to get that victory total up there 10, 11, 12 games. We've got a start. We've got ourselves in it. Our goal is to improve it a game or two so we've got those numbers at the end of the season.”

        Sunday at 2-5 Jacksonville, the Bengals play their first of three consecutive AFC Central games. Although the Bengals haven't won in Jacksonville since 1995, the Jaguars' woes this year make it a winnable game.

        Next will come Tennessee at home. The Titans are 3-4 and clearly not the dominant team of the past two seasons.

        The toughest of the Bengals' November games will

        come the 25th in Cleveland against the 4-3 Browns, who could have had a share of the division lead with Pittsburgh if they'd not blown a 14-point lead late at Chicago before losing in overtime.

        The Bengals and Browns are tied for third in the division at 4-3.

        The Bengals need to win two of the three November games to keep pace with the increasing number of AFC teams who now have five victories; 11 of 16 AFC teams, including the Bengals, have four or more victories.

        The Bengals have five December games and the postponed Sept. 16 game at Tennessee in January.

        Three of the five December games are at Paul Brown Stadium — against Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Pittsburgh — where the Bengals are 3-1 this season. Overall, they've won five of their last six home games. The road games are at the Jets and at Baltimore.

        Most important are to win as many division and conference games as possible because, besides head-to-head competition, they are the first two tie-breakers for playoff spots.

        The past five years, the Bengals are a combined 11-8 in the final month, although they've ben out of contention.

        Winning two road games would give the Bengals a 3-5 record away from home. Winning three of the final four at home would give them a 6-2 record at PBS. That adds up to 9-7 and, more likely than not, a playoff berth.

        “If we play our good football, we can compete with anyone. It is on us. It's what we do,” LeBeau said. “Frankly, that's a situation we haven't had at the first of November in a long time.”


Bengals Stories
- Bengals could make playoffs with 5-4 finish
Jaguars lose fifth in row
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Schilling, Johnson share MVP
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O'Neill goes out with two hits
Rivera finally blows one
Rookie manager aces his crash course
Sanders benched for Game 7
Turpin, St. Ursula focused on soccer titles
Volleyball trio underdogs at state
Boys state soccer schedule
Girls state soccer schedule
State volleyball schedule
Doerger coaching McNicholas again
LaSalle's Bader defends cross country title
Turpin girls win state cross country
Ohio boys cross country results
Ohio girls cross country results
St. Ursula makes state soccer tourney
Turpin boys reach state soccer tourney
St. X, Madeira lose in regional soccer
Bacon girls lose soccer regional
Kentucky boys cross country
Kentucky girls cross country
Three make state volleyball tourney
Cyclones 2, Richmond 1
Jets 16, Saints 9
Rochester 3, Mighty Ducks 2
Bengals' price too steep for preps
Ohio second-round pairings
Ohio first-round scores
Colerain 30, Hamilton 7
Elder 38, Lebanon 13
Princeton 56, Anderson 20
St. Xavier 41, Northmont 6
Dayton Carroll 18, Roger Bacon 13
McNicholas 56, Mount Healthy 13
New Richmond 42, Ross 38
Piqua 21, Edgewood 0
Washington C.H. 39, Indian Hill 31
Wyoming 49, Jonathan Alder 21
Badin 23, Valley View 16
Coldwater 54, Madeira 14
North College Hill 41, Chillicothe Zane Trace 10
Reading 39, Wheelersburg 31
Covington 47, Williamsburg 14
Kentucky second-round pairings
Kentucky first-round scores
Ballard 43, Dixie Heights 32
Beechwood 56, Berea 6
Bellevue 27, Nicholas Co. 13
Covington Catholic 44, Harrison Co. 22
Highlands 49, Bourbon County 30
Holmes 24, Montgomery County 0
Lexington Catholic 54, Grant County 14
Lloyd 46, East Carter 0
Newport Central Catholic 56, Raceland 7
Paris 37, Holy Cross 6
Shelby County 19, Boone County 17
Indiana playoff pairings
Indiana playoff scores

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