Some people are fans of the Cincinnati Bengals. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Cincinnati Bengals. This 2015 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.

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Your team: the Cincinnati Bengals. SPREADING JOY THROUGHOUT THE LAND…

Your 2014 record: 10-5-1. That includes a first-round playoff loss to the Colts that I cannot remember at all. I know I watched it. I know I sat there and stared at a television for three hours, attempting to absorb it. It was no use. Whenever the Bengals play a playoff game, my brain sets itself to INSTAWIPE because it knows it the game will not be worth preserving in memory.

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The Bengals have lost in the first round of the playoffs for four straight years by a combined score of 103-43. They haven’t won a playoff game since 1990. Can’t we just BAN them from the playoffs at this point? I’ve had enough. We need to re-seed the playoffs so that the Bungles can never get in. If they qualify for the Wild Card round, they should immediately be replaced by the team with the next best record. If that had happened a year ago, the Ravens would have been the 5-seed and the Texans would have been the 6-seed. We could have had J.J. Watt in there. FUCK, MAN. We only get 11 of these playoff games a year. I want them to MEAN something. Marvin Lewis just scours his asshole with them. It’s a systemic problem.

Your coach: Marvin Lewis. Go ahead, Marvin: make that stupid face you always make…

Every time I see Marvin Lewis, it looks like he’s muttering, “Eh, shit,” to himself under his breath. He knows he’s never winning a playoff game. And he knows that YOU know that he knows he’s never winning a playoff game. But he can’t say anything to make it better, so he just walks around making that face. Forever. He looks my dad every Christmas when he wants to say something that might piss my mom off, but refrains from saying it because he doesn’t want to piss her off.


Your quarterback: Andy fucking Dalton. I saw Andy Dalton play the worst game any professional quarterback has ever played last season. I mean it. I’ve seen MANY bad quarterbacks in my day. I watched Joe Webb start a playoff game. I’m telling you: What Andy Dalton did in Cleveland last season represents the absolute nadir of the positional genre. Here is the tape:

Dalton finished that game 10 of 33 for 86 yards with three interceptions. Against Cleveland. If he had been playing a real team, he would have had a THOUSAND picks.

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This was not an isolated incident. Want to be REALLY depressed? Here is Andy Dalton’s playoff game log:

I mean… why even AIR these games? Why not air a re-run of Moonlighting instead? The blithe comic interplay between Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd would be so much better for our collective morale. Watching Andy Dalton try to play football is like watching your job get shipped out of town. I don’t know why he bothers anymore. He should quit and go to barber school or something.

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What’s new that sucks: Hey, guess who INSTANTLY had one of the team’s best-selling jerseys when he arrived? You guessed it: It’s A.J. Hawk! If you like white people but don’t know ANYTHING about football, the A.J. Hawk jersey is the jersey for you. What a shock that the tolerant, progressive citizens of Cincinnati would gravitate toward such a player. Hawk doesn’t even start. But sign him to a veteran’s minimum contract and you can pretty much bank on a 10 percent boost in merch sales thanks to local residents who couldn’t find tickets to Saturday’s Ohio State game and need a substitute place to go scream GO BUCKEYES for three hours.

The team also brought in WR Denarius Moore. I predict all of Moore’s touchdown catches will come from Mohamed Sanu. Sanu is the best QB on this team by far. People are also excited about TE Tyler Eifert’s performance this preseason, which will make it all the more depressing his arm does this again:

What has always sucked: Gio Bernard! GIO BERNARD, YOU OWE ME FUCKING MONEY. Jeremy Hill ran for 154 yards subbing for Bernard, and I was like, “Oh, that’s okay. Gio will get his job back!” AND HE DID NOT. He probably fucking died, for all I know. God damn you, Gio Bernard. I hate your face.

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Anyway, Marvin and Dalton are still here and will be forever. It’s like the Giants without the titles. The upside of this franchise, in its present incarnation, has already been maxed out. But they’ll keep going through the motions for the next five years with the same shit because Mike Brown is a scumbucket who got his stadium and his money and is fine with being just good enough.

Besides, “good enough” is pretty much the high-water mark of excellence in Cincinnati. Cleveland is a dump, but at least it’s lovable. No one pities Cincinnati. And no one pities the Bengals, who are both shitty AND dirty:

This city’s three biggest exports are race wars, inedible chili, and Ickey Woods. Every white person in the metropolitan area is named Mack. The Florence Mall has a water tower that says FLORENCE Y’ALL because Cincy is spiritually part of the Deep South and is therefore the worst. The Bengals’ most famous player is Boomer Esiason, who is a flaming asshole. I hate the Bengals.

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What might not suck: Look, this incarnation of the Bengals is such a wild improvement from the Bruce Coslet days that Cincinnati fans have no choice but to be like, “I guess it’s okay.” You just gotta sit there and take it.

Hear it from Bengals fans!

Eli:

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I used to valet cars in Cincinnati at a high end restaurant where the Bengals would hold team dinners. One night Andre Smith (who we drafted in the first round number 6 overall in 2009) came in driving his Rolls Royce and paid me 40 bucks to go fill it with gas (I said, Premium right? He looked at me like I’d spanked his mother). So I get in this quarter million dollar car and as soon as I get in I notice the sweet aroma of fresh McDonalds. Mother fucker swung through the drive through ON HIS WAY TO EAT A FREE STEAK DINNER. His fucking pre-meal snack was 2 quarter pounders and a super sized fry, all slurped down of course with 900 million grams of sugary, tasty Sprite.

He broke his foot that season in a walk-through.

Fuck the Bengals.

John:

Most Bengals fans would be okay trading Andy Dalton for Jay Cutler straight up. I’ve asked my buddies, I promise this is true.

Alex:

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I can’t wait to watch Andy Dalton go 13-27 for 97 yards and 3 picks while AJ Green ponders the meaning of life after his next concussion because Dalton airmailed one 10 feet over his fucking head in front of a free safety in the annual first round playoff loss. The icing on the cake is when the camera pans to the sidelines to see Marvin Lewis, whose facial expression will once again match that of someone attempting to solve a long division problem after being out of school for 15 years.

Ryan:

Back when there was no hope, I couldn’t be let down.

Andy:

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Having Andy Dalton as your quarterback and Marvin Lewis as your head coach is like being in a loveless marriage that you’re too afraid to leave because you don’t know how you’ll pay the rent.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen commentators tell Bengals fans that they’re too harsh about Dalton’s playoff record and need to appreciate him.

Braden:

Fuck the entire Brown family.

Lew:

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Being a Bengals fan means having Browns fans telling you that your quarterback sucks and Steelers fans telling you that your team is full of criminals without a hint of irony yet having no way to argue with either of those facts. Being a Bengals fan means having to explain why you root for the team based in your state to Cowboys and Steelers fans in the same state who have no connection to the states in which those teams are based in, yet root for Ohio State football for some reason (I do love how those people do not enjoy being called out for the bandwagoners and frontrunners they truly are). Being a Bengals fan means having the 2009 AFC North sweep rendered meaningless by a first-round playoff loss. Being a Bengals fan means watching them beat the Steelers, Packers, Vikings (suck it, Magary!), and Patriots all in a sweet 11-5 regular season rendered meaningless by a first-round playoff loss.

Rick:

Andy Dalton and this Bengals team friend zone their fans every year.

Brendan:

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I saw our best player, A.J. Green, wearing socks and sandals in public last month.

Andy:

If you told me I could trade Andy Dalton for Jay Cutler straight up....I’d think about it. This is a team that Eli Manning could take to the Super Bowl. Phillip Rivers would WIN the Super Bowl. Fuck I hate Andy Dalton.

Alex:

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Andy Dalton is still here to throw trick shot interceptions by throwing a ball off his own lineman’s head and having it drop into a DL’s hands.

Sean:

It’s been so long since the Bengals last won a playoff game that it happened against the HOUSTON OILERS and the next week they lost to the LOS ANGELES RAIDERS ending Bo Jackson’s career in the process. I sound like my grandfather talking about Crazy Legs Hirsch. Now I’m 27 and I literally don’t know what it’s like to watch my team win an NFL playoff game. Chumbawamba has a more recent hit than the Bengals.

Andrew:

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Last time I went to a game was 2010. Bengals were playing the Josh Freeman-led Bucs. They were clinging to the lead despite a signature Carson Palmer pick-six and a defense that was making Freeman look like a Pro Bowler. My buddy and I decided to start a troll-y cheer, which was simply “Win the game, Win the game”. The tone of the cheer was sad and desperate. We weren’t even yelling it out.

Unsurprisingly, a sizable group of folks in our section starting chanting along with us. It was hard to tell if they were doing it in jest or what, but we had a good laugh about it. Either way, there is one truth about all Bengals fans: They all understand how tenuous any lead can be.

Palmer ended up throwing two more critical INTs and Freeman led his team to victory. I have not spent a dime watching the team since.

Michael:

John Oliver’s segment on publicly funded stadiums reminded the world how badly Mike Brown swindled Hamilton County. Who needs schools when you can build an ugly ass stadium with the county on the hook for holographic replay if it ever gets invented. Not only did it gouge the county for all time, but it’s also a monstrosity. It looks like a Soviet era bunker without a roof. Rather than built, it looks like it was ripped from some god-forsaken crack in the Earth, constructed by the hand of Satan himself. It’s only fitting that it’s named after Mike Brown’s father.

Joe:

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My puppy was neutered at the shelter. He humps one thing & one thing only: my Bengals blanket. He’s 2 now. He won’t let up.

Marc:

I’ll gloss over the frustration of being a franchise equivalent of a bit player, always existing at the fringes of the yearly NFL discussion, but never quite relevant enough to be acknowledged in the same breath as the “storied franchises” who beat us into the mud every year. Hell, I’ll even look past the gnawing impotence that comes with a decade of 8-8 seasons and no discernible change in leadership or strategic direction.

None of those complaints represents a unique complaint in the NFL. Hell, it’s practically the universal condition of being a fan in the NFL, except for those three or four glorious years of your life where it’s not.

What gets me about being a Bengals fan is just how futile the whole exercise feels. In my lifetime (b. 1991), we’ve run the gamut from being abjectly horrible to passably mediocre, and even in recent years, something resembling good. We’ve gone from the rudderless 1990s to the formation of a team identity, however primordial, at times around a still-effective Carson Palmer and then, later, around a Top-5 defense with a legitimately frightening pass rush. Hell, this year, the Bengals could even add a run game to the mix, which would let them play a two-way brand of “smashmouth football” I’ve so jealously coveted from the Steelers and Ravens all these years. But at no point in my life have I ever looked at the Bengals and thought to myself, “This team looks like it could win a Super Bowl. We belong in the conversation.”

The truth is, Andy Dalton is now our long-term quarterback. We can play all the great football we want, and it still won’t matter, because at best, Andrew Luck will still throw for 400 yards and two TDs against us in the playoffs and beat us 17-13 in the second round.

Yes, being a Bengals fan is painful for any number of reasons. But only now, having watched them crawl inch by inch out of the NFL’s gutter, do I truly grasp the sheer meaninglessness of rooting for a team without a star quarterback. I thought my loyal fandom would win me some sort of satisfaction in watching the team grow after all these years. But instead of finding the temple at the top of the mountain, I stand face to face with a locked door, for which I was never given a key anyway. Like Patrick Bateman, my catharsis has meant nothing. The whole enterprise has been pointless. Even at 11-5, there is nothing left for us to do but to blow it up, to fall all the way back down to the bottom and hope to find our savior in a decade’s time. Therein lies the true reason my team sucks: all of their progress reveals the supreme unfairness of the sport itself. The Bengals are one of the only teams in the NFL that can actually ruin the sport itself for you.

Jon:

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As a Bengals fan, you have two choices: make the playoffs and lose in the first round; or go 4-12 while watching the team’s best players go down like Allied troops in “Nation’s Pride.”

Justin:

I bet the city of Cincinnati has to pay for Mike Brown to be cloned once that’s possible and he and Marvin Lewis will run the team until the end of time. I’m going to go have a cry now.

Michael:

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Andy Dalton has more Celebrity Softball home runs (2) than Playoff touchdowns (1). Dalton should be jailed for the injury-riddled mess he is making of AJ Green’s career.

Paul Brown Stadium is so horrible that Ariana Grande chose getting her wisdom teeth pulled out over playing there.

Allegedly, Pac Man Jones has texted my sister’s friend on multiple occasions to meet up with him at a local pizza joint. She has shut him down every single time.

The only PPV event that WWE has ever held in Cincinnati was headlined by Kevin Federline.

In 2014, the Bengals (485,628) were outdrawn in attendance by the Single-A Dayton Dragons (573,709).

Brendan:

I was born in Cincinnati in 1989. My father occasionally mentions that he would have tried to name me Boomer, or Ickey, or some combination thereof, if the Bengals had won the Super Bowl that year. In a way, the Bengals sucking has improved my personal well-being.

Matt:

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Have you HEARD the theme song? It sounds like something you’d hear at 3am Sunday morning at Taco Bell. The “roar” sounds like a fart.

Zach:

Mike Brown’s head looks like an old testicle that has been slapping against the ass of Cincinnati Taxpayers for the past 30 years.

Ahmed:

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Did you know Bengals fans want AJ McCarron over Andy Dalton? They do! Because Bengals fans deserve what they have, which is nothing.

Don’t believe me? One of the reasons the “Who Dey Nation” (cringe appropriately) wants McCarron over Dalton is because McCarron is a better decision-maker. Here’s exhibit A of AJ McCarron: Decision-Maker Extraordinaire:

I’m not gonna say Andy Dalton is great but fuck AJ McCarron forever.

Submissions for the 2015 NFL previews are now closed. Next up: the Pittsburgh Steelers.