Friday - 9/22/2000
The profile of a playoff season can take on many forms. There are directives that must be adhered to in a specific order. First and foremost, you must win at home. Playing on the road in the NFL is one of the toughest things to do in all of professional sports and as the home team you must use that advantage.
Second, you must beat the teams that you should beat. Teams that go to the playoffs beat opponents with lesser record 75% of the time. The hard thing to calibrate is the ultimate ranking of a team. A team that falls into this category early in the season may not be in that same category late in the season, and visa-versa.
Next, you should at the least split your road games. This has a lot to do with how your schedule falls and who are the beatable teams. Finally, you must find a way to split with the good teams on your schedule. Playoff teams, as a hole, usually go 50/50 Vs teams with winning records during the regular season (That's not always the case - the Ravens lost to the only two playoff teams they faced last season, Tennessee and Detroit).
Having laid it out this way you can see the absolute necessity of us playing well and beating Cincinnati this week. We are at home and they, currently, are one of the teams under .500. For these reasons, Cincinnati is just as big a game as the previous game for many of the same reasons as the Jacksonville game. Anytime you are playing a divisional opponent there is a great deal of significance. This game is a chance for us to stay atop the AFC Central and it is a home game. The Warrick has a lot of potential. They are a dangerous team, especially if they get backed into a corner. Their defense flies around and plays with reckless abandon that can cause problems. Our team will have to be ready for the Bengals level of energy.
For us to improve as a team, particularly on offense, we must use every game as a learning opportunity and a chance to define who we are and what we are made of. I am not a person who thinks that week in and week out we are going to have a perfect performance. But that does not prevent me from expecting an attitude from our players, coaching staff and myself that strives to attain perfection in the way we go about doing things. Sometimes it is hard for the players to understand why we coaches are so nit- picking about the little things. A reporter asked Don Shula one time if there is any value in overlooking a little error at times. His answer is why he is a Hall of Fame coach and Super Bowl champion. His reply: �What is a little error.�