What it means: It's officially time to write off the Bengals (2-5). Although I didn't like the way Cincinnati played the past few weeks, I wanted to wait and see if the defending AFC North champs could turn things around. Instead, the Bengals played poorly again Sunday and suffered its fourth straight defeat. With the Cleveland Browns (2-5) on a bye, the Bengals are now in last place in the AFC North. The Browns own the head-to-head tiebreaker.
What I liked: Cincinnati's red zone defense was solid. The Bengals gave up yards throughout the game but didn't allow the Dolphins to score a touchdown until the fourth quarter. Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter kicked five field goals to keep Miami close. Bengals receiver Terrell Owens had two touchdown catches.
What I didn't like: Cincinnati has struggled to put four quarters together all season, and it's perhaps the biggest reasons the team is 2-5. Last week against the Atlanta Falcons, the Bengals fell behind big in the first half and tried to catch up. On Sunday, Cincinnati started fast, led at halftime and then went scoreless in the third and fourth quarters. The Bengals have talent, but they aren’t good enough to beat most teams by playing well only half the time. They are finding that out the hard way.
What's next: The Bengals have a high-profile AFC North battle next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers on "Monday Night Football." It's the first of three prime-time games for Cincinnati this season and the only one on Monday night. Many fans around the country have yet to see Cincinnati play this season, but they haven't missed much. The Bengals are one of the NFL's biggest disappointments.