The Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) play the Cleveland Browns (0-16) this week. It should be an extremely exciting matchup as both teams are professional and not amateur (arguably) and are paid to perform on Sundays. But really, I hope the Bengals aren't taking the Brownies too lightly. We all saw the plethora of points scored last time that happened, and the losing streak that followed. I get the feeling that this team is too mature to have a let down like that, though.
Anywho, here's some mid-week news, including a glut of power rankings links!
- ESPN: 11 (last week: 24; +13) "They haven't been this impressive since winning the division in 2005. (Chadiha)"
- Sports Illustrated: Stay Tuned (last week: 14; expected jump (Steelers were 8 last week) +5) Other stuff from SI.com: Don Banks says the jury is still out on the Bengals in his review of teams with winning records through week 3. Since we play the Browns this week, I find it relevant to link to this Joe Posnanski story that calls Eric Mangini is the worst coaching hire ever.
- CBSSportsLine: 12 (last week: 14; +2) "They have to avoid a letdown against the Browns. Past Bengals teams might not have, but this team is better. Even so, they need to be careful (Prisco)." Also from Prisco - team grades. The Bengals got a B, which would have probably been an F if not for the 4th quarter, bringing the season GPA to 2.77 (that's a C+ average, is this a C+ team? I hope not.)
Charley Casserly says the Bengals turnaround has been a long time coming. Agreeing with Trent Dilfer (who harped on this on NFL Tonight for ESPN), the strong finish last season featured an emphasis on defense when the offense was awful, and that's carried over to this year. The defense is very confident and has really stepped up in the clutch, allowing the Bengals to win games late. I'd really like to see them jump out to a strong start and play a WHOLE strong game against Cleveland, since they haven't played a complete game since the first 59 minutes and 30-some-odd seconds against the Broncos in Week 1.
- Meanwhile, Pete Prisco thinks Carson Palmer has been key to the rejuvination of the Bengals. I find it hard ti disagree - he's been clutch. He just needs to step up early in games and be more consistent. Good quotes from Carson and Ochocinco. Dunno how I missed this Monday.
- Fox Sports has the 1-2 Pittsburgh Steelers in the top 10 of their power rankings, ahead of the 3-0 Vikings (who dropped 1 spot after winning?) and a lot of other teams that have played better than the Steelers so far. More importantly, the Bengals moved up 9 spots to #13 (somehow still being Pittsburgh, who they beat, but behind Denver, who they lost to. Correctly they are 1 spot ahead of Green Bay. Yes, I know transitivity does not work in sports, but it can probably work through 3 games.)
- In fantasy terms, the Bengals are slightly above average according to Yahoo! Sports. Based on red zone appearances, third down conversion rates, yards per carry, yards per pass attempt, rank in sacks allowed per game, td rushes per game, and td passes per game, we're #13. Things to improve on: Yards per pass attempt (this has been really bad this year) and sacks allowed (surprisingly we're near the bottom in this category). 3rd down conversions have been better this year, but could stand to improve after the Pittsburgh game.
- Finishing up with a local touch, Mike Zimmer is awesome. Geoff Hobson talked with him and has a pretty cool article about Zim's standards and assessment of his unit so far.
- Good lord, the Cincinnati Enquirer has published a ton of stuff about the Bengals in the past couple days. Joe Reedy highlights how my favorite Bengals TE, Reggie Kelly, is contributing while injured. I think everyone loves Reggie Kelly. Reedy also did a short preview of the Browns game. He asks if the Browns have given up (legitimate question. It's week 3, by the way.) Here's a replay of the chat Reedy hosted this afternoon. Joe's been busy, highlighting emerging T.J. Who? replacement Andre Easy Name to Spell Caldwell. Talk about clutch (or cardiac) - that's this season's Bengals. Finally from the Enquirer, here are Joe Reedy's position-by-position grades after reviewing game film of last Sunday's game.