Old School guys like Hob who go all Old School explaining the how the 2009 Bengals win through some Old School formula of grit, toughness, chemistry, ball control, eye discipline and Old Schooliness appear to be right.
The Bengals sit at 9-3, in full control of the AFC North, a division they have swept even though it contains the two teams from last year's AFC Championship game. They have high quality wins against good opponents on the road including Green Bay, Baltimore, & Pittsburgh where if you watched the game you could tell the Bengals appeared to be the superior team (perhaps only slightly) and the outcome was fair.
Yet the those purveyors of more intelligent NFL statistics find the 2009 version of the Bengals about as compelling this year as the Jets or Niners and less so than the Ravens and Steelers, against whom we are 4-0.
The luckiest teams this season have been the Vikings, the Colts, the Bengals and the Saints. Usually when teams have extremely good records, they are both good and lucky. The reason is simple: It’s extremely rare for a team to have a good record and at the same time be unlucky.
And check out Football Outsiders DVOA ranking, the stat they use to measure which teams are the strongest and weakest each year (since folks have asked: DVOA basically measures how a team performs compared to the NFL average on every play, taking into account things like down, distance, score, time and quality of opponent). The Bengals sit right in the middle of the pack at 15th.
Basically, the implication is that the either the Bengals a)have had more than their fair share of luck this year or b)these stats just can't quantify something (like the ability of Brian Leonard to intimidate our opponents?).
So what do you think? What's going on with this 2009 season, a whole lotta luck or something else?
My take: a little bit of net good luck (would be much more if not for the Denver game) plus scraping out bare bones wins against teams we are actually far better than (Cleveland twice, Detroit) making us statistically unappealing.
Remember those 1994 Knicks coached by Pat Riley with guys like Charles Oakley who just beat the crap out of you and won ugly? I think we have lots in common with them. An ability to make opponents play ugly like you is not luck and that is what we do. But we will look statistically bad anyway.
At least, that's what I hope. Cause if it's a lot of luck that will not continue.