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Monday, October 28
Updated: October 29, 11:15 AM ET
Bengals guarantee a victory against Texans

Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- The NFL's worst team is going to win next week. Guaranteed.

Says who? The lowly Cincinnati Bengals themselves.

I think the result will be different in the very near future. I'll make that prediction.
Bengals coach Dick LeBeau

The league's only winless team is short on victories, but not on nerve. After a 30-24 loss to Tennessee, coach Dick LeBeau brashly predicted a victory next Sunday in Houston.

Given a chance to take it back a day later, LeBeau didn't back down.

"I think this team's going to start winning,'' LeBeau said Monday. "I think we played a hard game, a competitive game, and we did as much as the other team did. We just didn't win the game.

"I think the result will be different in the very near future. I'll make that prediction.''

Got that, Texans?

LeBeau was even more emphatic on the subject after Sunday's loss, which ended with a memorable Bengal blunder. Pulling guard Matt O'Dwyer tripped Corey Dillon inches short of the goal line with 68 seconds left, dropping the Bengals to 0-7 for the fourth time since 1991.

LeBeau sounded a little like Joe Namath as he summed up the game and looked ahead.

"I thought the team fought. We had every opportunity to win, and next week we will win,'' he said, delivering the last line with extra emotion.

Asked whether that amounted to a prediction, LeBeau said, "I believe this team is going to win.''

The bulletin-board material didn't end there. Informed of their coach's brash statements, his players backed him up.

"Next week, I assure you a win,'' receiver Chad Johnson said. "I guarantee you we will win.''

The Texans, as one might expect, were not thrilled with Johnson's comments.

"I don't think it's one player's job to come out and put a bounty out like that," Texans defensive tackle Gary Walker told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Monday. "They're struggling to get established, just like we are. We don't look like the expansion team.

"I don't even know the guy (Johnson). Obviously, if he's going to come out and make statements like that, he needs to show up on film a little more."

If the Bengals do win, it will be an upset. The expansion Texans have two more wins than the Bengals and are favored to get another one on their home field Sunday. Houston (2-5) beat Dallas to open the season and is coming off a 21-19 victory over Jacksonville.

Until LeBeau made his prediction, there was nothing special about their matchup. Now, the Texans have plenty of motivation -- the league's worst team is showing them no respect.

A loss by the Bengals would clinch a 12th straight season without a winning record. Cincinnati is 53-130 since 1991, the worst record in the NFL over that span.

Although LeBeau's prediction was unexpected, it wasn't uncharacteristic. Despite his 10-26 record as the Bengals coach, LeBeau has made some surprising remarks from time to time.

  • During training camp in 2001, he started referring to the upcoming "championship season.'' Cincinnati went 6-10.

  • During minicamp last May, LeBeau donned a Superman shirt and ran through a banner that said "Bengals Super Bowl 2002.''

  • When he announced Gus Frerotte as the starting quarterback during training camp, he looked over the crowded media room and said, "This will be the second-largest crowd we have in here, subject to the Monday after we clinch the playoffs.''

    The players bought into his playoff talk in preseason. Seven losses later, they're compelled to back him on the first-win talk as well.

    "I'm with him,'' Dillon said. "There's no other choice.''

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