Don’t look now, folks, but the Cincinnati Bengals appear to be for real.
One of only two still-undefeated teams, they’re the new “fashionable” favorite to snap a 14-year playoff-less streak and, if the stars align, win Super Bowl 49.
As of now, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson says, the Bengals are atop the food chain. And he’s taking pleasure in it.
“Now we’re the hunted,” Jackson said, via Cincinnati.com. “It’s not like the people say, ‘Here come the Bengals.’ No, we’re the hunted. When you get hunted, you’ve got to understand you get everybody’s best shot.”
A few days before Cincy welcomes the Patriots into town for a Sunday Night Football clash, Jackson is aiming to keep up the fighting spirit.
“It’s not people going and feeling you out,” he said. “They’re coming into the stadium ready to punch, and you have to understand you have to take those punches and absorb them and then you got to go dish out your own. That’s the way it’s got to be. I think our guys understand that. There won’t be any more of us flying under the radar or anything like that.”
Jackson, who’s logged more than two decades of coaching experience, is absolutely right in the message he’s getting across. The NFL, some like to say, stands for “Not For Long,” and a club can go from the penthouse to the outhouse in a blink of the eye.
The Bengals are deservedly the talk of the league, but its players can’t begin to get cocky, read their own press clippings, or take anything for granted on the field. As Jackson said, their opponents — especially divisional foes — will want nothing more than to rain on their proverbial parade.