Good Friday morning, everyone. We're just two days away from the start of arguably the biggest two-game stretch of the Cincinnati Bengals' season. For them, it's all about continuing to win.
Depending on how this weekend unfolds, the Bengals could be in complete win-and-you're-in mode next weekend. Or, they could be in win-and-take-a-first-round-bye mode.
It's a strange position for a team long believed to be postseason-bound. A loss or two and the Bengals could be stuck at home, watching the playoffs unfold from their couches.
While they're nearing these important last couple of regular-season games, a pair of Bengals receivers also are nearing an impressive milestone that has never been reached in team history. Not once have two Bengals receivers hit double digits in touchdown receptions in the same season.
A.J. Green (8 TD catches) and Marvin Jones (9) are knocking on the door of accomplishing the rare feat. Green certainly has the ability to add another couple of touchdowns across the next two weeks, and Jones has proven that he likes to get his scores in bunches. Against the New York Jets on Oct. 27, he caught a franchise-record four touchdown passes.
The fact that Green and Jones are so close to reaching the 10-touchdown mark is a testament to the diversity of playmaking options the Bengals have in their offense.
As we get going with Friday's Morning Stripes, here's a little more on the mark the pair is trying to obtain:
Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson goes into more detail about the achievement Green and Jones are trying to reach. One thing that has helped is having Jones to throw to in the red zone. Eight of his nine scores have come inside 20 yards.
Going back to the playoff chase, the Dayton Daily News' Jay Morrison found an interesting quote from the team's Super Bowl run 25 years ago. It completely echoes what the Bengals have been saying this week as they try to bounce back from a loss and close out the regular season on a high note.
One of the biggest storylines for the Bengals this week revolved around the season-ending hit punter Kevin Huber took in last Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Three days after the violent hit that broke Huber's jaw and cracked vertebrae, the punter was standing in front of his locker, holding court with reporters for more than 15 minutes. Like Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote, Huber didn't have to do that. It was quite the classy move by the punter who was raised in Cincinnati and went to the University of Cincinnati.
Speaking of Huber's hit, some punters across the league, like Seattle's Jon Ryan, have taken exception with head of officials Dean Blandino calling them "defenseless [players] throughout the down." That was the way Blandino put it Tuesday night when he explained why the Huber hit should have been flagged for unnecessary roughness. At the time, it wasn't. Ryan and Indianapolis' Pat McAfee are among those who disagree with Blandino. If they're going for a tackle, they shouldn't be protected like that, they say. Here's Pro Football Talk's look at the defenseless comments.