The quotations coming out of Cincannati this week suggest that the Bengal's coaches do not quite have the confidence of the players for today's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Riverfront Stadium.
The Steelers (8-4) can clinch their fourth straight AFC Central Division title in the National Football League with a victory over the Bengals (7-5).
A Cincinnati victory would deadlock the teams and the title would be decided next week with both teams on the road, the Bengals at Houston (now 6-6) and the Steelers at San Diego (now 7-5).
Under the NFL's complicated tie-breaking procedures. Cincinnati can win the title regardless of what the Steelers do next week if the Bengals beat Pittsburgh by six or more points today and win next week.
The Cincinnati running backs believe the best way to defeat the Steelers is on the ground.
Coach Bill Johnson noted. "It's been three or four years since the last time we had a running attack against Pittsburgh.
Boobie Clark said, "As far as I'm concerned, we've been able to run the ball. It's just the opposite: we haven't been able to pass against the Pittsburgh. But coaches know more than I do. "You don't see anyone carry the ball 25, 30, 35 times on this team. And that's why the Steelers' running game is better that ours - they work at it more than we do."
Pete Johnson, the rookie fullback from Ohio State, said, "There is no such thing as 'can't.' You have to make it a personal thing; mind over matter. I'm not going to let the guy in front of me make me look bad."
The Bengals have picked up in rushing their last three games - victories over Miami, the New York Giants and Kansas City - with 173, 176 and 220 yards.
Archie Griffin, who has average five yards a carry in those games and has 438 for the entire season said, "The blocking has been tremendous."
Cincinnati ranks ninth in the conference in total offense, ninth in rushing and sixth in passing, Pittsburgh ranks third against the pass.
The Steelers have balance on offense, rating No. 2 overall, No. 3 in rushing and No. 3 in passing.
On defense, the Bengals are eighth in total and rushing defense, seventh against the pass.
The Bengals have won five of their last six games, but have lost their last five games against the Steelers.
Defensive captain Joe Greene dismissed the wonder of whether the Bengals may choke against the Steelers.
"Has anybody thought we just might have been better?" Greene asked. "I'd like to believe that."
Pittsburgh coach Chuck Noll discontinued the idea that the Steelers may have a psychological advantage as a result of the streak over the Bengals.
"I'd like to believe that," he said, "but I don't. I'd like to believe there's an easy way to get something done, like, all we had to do as walk on the field. But there is no such thing as that."
The Steelers are 2 1/2-point favorites.