Posted: 6 p.m.
The Bengals are a win away Sunday against Cleveland from becoming the first Cincinnati team ever to complete a season sweep of its division and it is such a magnificent thought that it had The Ocho dreaming Wednesday.
"That's like me dating Halle Berry, going 6-0 in the division," wide receiver Chad Ochocinco said before practice.
The Ocho probably doesn't realize Berry was born in Cleveland, but he does know how big this game is. How big is it? It's so big that Ochocinco is actually calling for the run.
"As long as we get the damn 'W.' We need to run the ball big time this week," said The Ocho of the two-deep Browns zone that slows up the game. "This is one of the few times I (want) to run the ball because I know if we run it successfully, we'll have some damn fun out there."
And the Bengals sound like they're in just the right foul mood to smash it against a team they've dominated on the ground in the Marvin Lewis era. Last Sunday's 20-17 loss to Oakland that prevented the Bengals from opening up ground in an AFC North that saw all its teams lose last weekend has them good and mad.
"This team hasn't been this frustrated and this mad since I've been here, after what happened last week; we have a lot of energy right now," said quarterback Carson Palmer. "We're excited about a chance to play, and nothing gets that nasty feeling out of the pit of your stomach like getting a chance to play at home against a division team, and going 6-0 in the division, and all these things are added onto this game. Nothing gets rid of that nasty feeling that we have other than a win.
"We knew we had a chance to be in a different position than we're in right now. We knew right after the game that we didn't play well enough. It wasn't about the play calls. It wasn't about anything other than execution, holding onto the football and stopping them when we had to. We'll be ready to play this week. We have this feeling in our stomachs and we're excited about getting rid of it, and having an opportunity to get rid of it."
Safety Chris Crocker, the former third-round pick of the Browns all those years ago, knows his team knows it let a golden chance slip away after having Oakland on the ropes in the first half and now playing the struggling Browns and Lions at home the next two weeks.
"We felt like this was a letdown. It's not like us, how far we've come as a team," Crocker said. "It was kind of set up for us to have a chance to have success. That's the most disappointing thing because you had a chance to separate from everybody else in the division, and it kind of went sideways.
"Honestly, we haven't really thought about (going 6-0 in the North). We're so focused on just winning this ballgame and getting that bad taste out of the mouth from last weekend that we haven't even really talked about winning the division. It's another opponent and another step of us getting to the playoffs."
But, as Palmer would say, 6-0 in the North would be "huge, huge," even if it doesn't mean a division title. Since the division was born in 2002, only the '02 and '08 Steelers have done it.
"I still feel like our division is the best in the game. A lot can be said about the NFC East and probably the AFC East, too," Palmer said. "But to me, being an offensive player, being a quarterback, playing against Pittsburgh twice and playing against Baltimore's defense twice, and then a Coach (Eric) Mangini defense and his schemes and the things he's able to do, it doesn't get much more difficult than that. It's something that we talk about all year long -- in the offseason, training camp and during the season, about winning our division and dominating our division. We have a chance to do that, and it means a lot to everyone in our locker room. It's not going to be easy. This is a team that plays well against us."
A team that plays them well enough that it has The Ocho running.
"They make it very hard on the receivers on the outside," The Ocho said as he thought of his running back. "They're playing good ball defensively. Ced, Larry, B-Scott. They can get 50 carries for all I care this week. If we can just get the 'W' for real."