We’ve long since given up hope for competitive, entertaining football on Thursday nights, but it was almost as hard to look away from this week’s Bengals vs. Browns match up as it was to watch it. Cincinnati has reached shocking levels of ineptitude over the past month, and Thursday’s performance – or lack thereof – certainly felt like rock bottom. While the Bengals somehow remain in the thick of the AFC North division race, we’d like to petition Roger Goodell (who admittedly has a few larger items on his plate) to declare the team ineligible for the playoffs. Let’s put them on that “commissioner’s exemption” list so that we no longer are subjected to their embarrassing inconsistency.

 

It’s one thing for teams like the Jaguars and Raiders to set the standard for on-field shame. After all, it’s no mystery that when you combine poor players with poor coaching and poor management, you get 0-8 and 1-7. To paraphrase the great orator Dennis Green, those teams are who we thought they were. The Bengals, and other squads with legitimate playoff aspirations, however, need to do better. Even if you have no rooting interest for or against Cincinnati, these unenthusiastic performances are offending lovers of the sport when teams are unprepared, uninspired, and demonstrate no willingness to fight through adversity. The Bengals aren’t the only team guilty of these transgressions, but they seem to be making a habit of it. It’s simply unacceptable for a franchise quarterback such as Andy Dalton, who was just minted with a $100 million contract, to submit a performance like he did on Thursday.

 

While it is true that all of us NFL fans are prone to hyperbole and over-reaction, Cincinnati’s showing on Thursday really hit a nerve. We need an honest effort and a commitment to competence, and we got none of that. Given the vagaries of the NFL, we are sure the Bengals will score 40 points next week, but that doesn’t take away the literal and figurative stink. It was fun for a while to laugh at their misfortune. Now, we just want them to go away.

 

Here are five other Week 10 highlights that can help us forget the Bengals.

 

Monday Night Mark: Nobody finds drama quite like Mark Sanchez, who has been thrust in the Eagles’ starting role for the foreseeable future. In true Sanchez fashion, all eyes will be place on him as Philly hosts this week’s Monday nighter. By all accounts, Sanchez is a good guy who got a raw deal in New York. We don’t really know if he’s a good quarterback, but we can agree that he deserves another opportunity to prove it.

 

England’s Team vs. America’s Team: The good people of London get their annual dose of unimpressive Jaguar football this week, but this year the Cowboys are bringing some good old fashioned American sizzle to the table. Tony Romo is on-track to play. Let’s set the over-under on shots of Romo’s back and/or him grimacing in pain at 147. By the way, are the Jaguars London’s team, England’s team, or the UK’s team? Does anyone actually care?

 

End of the Gold Rush?: The 49ers are quietly teetering on the brink of a ruinous season. They travel to New Orleans (always a good destination to help you accelerate personal ruin) this week to face seemingly rejuvenated Saints unit. A loss here could lead to some serious distress in San Francisco.

 

Mega-Matchup: That giant sound you hear is the collective cheering of fantasy football fans everywhere due to the return of Calvin Johnson this week. Megatron has been sorely missed this season, both in real-life football and in fantasy. Sunday’s game between the Lions and Dophins is sneaky good. Both of these teams are playing hard-nosed defense and cannot be dismissed from legitimate playoff discussion. Should be fun.

 

Big, Big, Big Ben: We should take pause and recognize the awesomeness of Ben Roethlisberger’s 12 touchdown insanity over the past two weeks. We don’t think he can duplicate those back-to-back six TD performances, but he is playing the Jets…so we’re saying there’s a chance.

 

On a serious note, the NFL will be executing various Salute to Service initiatives in multiple stadiums this week’s to honor our nation’s military. Take a minute to say thanks to all the veterans.

 

How did Week 10 treat you? Let’s talk NFL here, or find me on Twitter @endbadly