The Bengals want to reward their suffering fans this week. Whether their fans care or not is another question.
They’ve already clinched the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, so there is literally nothing for them to play for Sunday other than to mess with the Browns (as if they need the help). And yet, they’re going to open up the stadium, so they might as well try.
“It’s a home game. We’ve only won one of them. We haven’t won a divisional game yet. You can end the season on a positive note,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said, via Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “It’s a reward for hard work and for the things these guys have put in, and a reward for the city. I know the city wants us to beat Cleveland, as they should — the fan base, the coaching staff, everyone in this building. There’s plenty to play for this week.”
The Bengals have won a single game this year, beating the Jets at home on Dec. 1. But as last week’s rally to force overtime in Miami suggests, they haven’t completely given up, even if their city might have.
The Bengals are averaging 47,096 fans per game this season, the second-smallest number in the league, and the lowest in an actual-sized stadium. The Chargers are at the bottom of the attendance list this year, averaging 25,393 in a 27,000-seat soccer stadium.
“We have the fans out there to help out and support,” running back Joe Mixon said. “We got to go out there and give them a show for the last time of the year.”
It appears the good people of Cincinnati have seen enough.