[Bengals Season Preview] Previewing Weeks 5-9

Any given Sunday isn't just a decent (I stress the word decent) football movie starring Tony Montana and a blind piano player. It's also a saying that rings true to all football fans. On any given Sunday, any team can take down another. Yes, on any given Sunday the Lions can beat the Colts or the Browns can beat the Saints. This saying gives hope to the fans of the teams that have struggled in the past and it serves as a warning to the fans of the teams who always seem to be in the playoffs.

In the second quarter of the regular season, the Bengals have some pretty tough games including a home Monday Night Football game against their rival Pittsburgh Steelers. After the Bengals sweep through the first four games of the 2010 season, they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week five. Then the Bengals have a bye during week six of the season. After their football free weekend, the Bengals travel to Hotlanta to face the falcons in week seven. In week eight, the Bengals come back home to Cincinnati to host the Miami Dolphins and in week nine, the Bengals will play the Steelers at home in front of a national audience on Monday Night Football. So, let's get to it.

Week 5 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals
Paul Brown Stadium
Sunday October 10

Tampa Bay 2009 Record: 3-13
2009 Road Record: 2-6
2009 Home Record: 1-7
Head to Head Against Bengals: 6-3
Over Under: 5 ½ Games  
Over: -140
Under:
+110

Key Acquisitions: Jon Alston, Sean Jones, Donovan Raiola, Keydrick Vincent
Key Losses: Antonio Bryant, Will Allen, Brian Clark, Chris Hovan, Marcus Maxwell, Matt McCoy

Tampa Bay 2010 Draft Picks: Round 1 (3), Gerald McCoy-DT Oklahoma, Round 2 (35) Brian Price-DT UCLA, Round 2 (39- From Raiders) Arrelious Benn-WR Illinois, Round 3 (67) Myron Lewis-CB Vanderbilt, Round 4 (101) Mike Williams-WR Syracuse, Round 6 (172) Brent Bowden-P Virginia Tech, Round 7 (217- From Jaguars) Dekoda Watson-LB Florida State, Round 7 (253) Erik Lorig-DE Stanford

Offense (2009)

Bengals

Buccaneers

Total 309.1 (24th) 287.5 (28)
Scoring 19.1  (22nd) 15.2 (30th)
Third Downs 41% (12th) 33% (26th)
Passing 180.6 (26th) 185.8 (24th)
Passing TDs 21 (16th) 18 (21st)
Rushing 128.5 (9th) 101.7 (23rd)
Rushing TDs 9 (t-22nd) 5 (31st)
Sacks Allowed 29 (9th) 33 (14th)
20-yard Passes 36 (26th) 40 (20th)
Defense (2009)

Bengals

Buccaneers

Total 301.4  (4th) 365.6 (27th)
Scoring 18.2 (6th) 25 (27th)
3rd Downs Allowed 39% (16th) 40% (22nd)
Passing 203.1 (6th) 207.4 (10th)
Passing TDs 18 (8th) 28 (26th)
Rushing 98.3 (7th) 158.2 (32nd)
Rushing TDs 12 (14th) 16 (21st)
Sacks 34 (16th) 28 (t-26th)
QB Rating 73.6 (7th) 87.2 (21st)
20-Yard Passes Allowed 41 (9th) 36 (5th)
Interceptions 19 (t-9th) 19 (t-9th)

The Game: Tampa Bay had an abysmal season last year finishing with just three games in the win column. Even though they added some talent via the NFL draft with players like Gerald McCoy and Arrelious Benn, I don't expect the Buccaneers to make a playoff run in 2010.

One of the more interesting story lines during this game will be the Bengals acquisition of Antonio Bryant. Bryant was released by the Buccs after disappointing stay that was riddled with injuries. Bengals fans will look for Bryant to give them a similar show that Benson gave them when the Bengals played the Bears in 2009. They will be excited to see what Bryant does to the team that gave up on him.

Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman went 3-6 last season as a starter but has good arm strength and with a little experience and some more polish, he could prove to be a decent quarterback. Surrounding Freeman are some talented but young wide receivers and Kellen Winslow at tight end.

While the Buccs offense may be better this season than it was last season, the Bengals defense should prove to be more than a tough match for the Tampa Bay offense. Young Buccaneer wide receivers may have a hard time breaking free from Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall which should allow the Bengals defensive linemen plenty of time to put the squeeze on Freeman. If they can't sack him they may be able to force him into making a few mistakes that young quarterbacks tend to make.

Week 6: Bye Week

 

Week 7 - Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons
Georgia Dome
Sunday October 24

2009 Atlanta Record: 9-7
Road Record: 3-5
Home Record: 6-2
Head to Head Against Bengals: 4-7
Over Under: 9 Games Over: -115 Under: -115

Key Acquisitions: Matt Giordano, Dunta Robinson
Key Losses: Tye Hill, Charlie Peprah, D.J. Shockley

Atlanta 2010 NFL Draft Picks: Round 1 (19) Sean Weatherspoon-LB Missouri, Round 3 (83) Corey Peters-DT Kentucky, Round 3 (98- compensatory pick) Mike Johnson-OG Alabama, Round 4 (117) Joe Hawley-OG UNLV, Round 5 (135- From Redskins through Rams) Dominique Franks-CB Oklahoma, Round 5 (165- compensatory pick) Kerry Meier-WR Kansas, Round 6 (171- from Lions) Shann Schillinger-S Montana

Offense (2009)

Bengals

Falcons

Total

309.1 (24th)

340.4 (16th)

Scoring

19.1  (22nd)

22.7 (13th)

Third Downs

41% (12th)

42% (10th)

Passing

180.6 (26th)

223.2 (14th)

Passing TDs

21 (16th)

26 (13th)

Rushing

128.5 (9th)

117.2 (15th)

Rushing TDs

9 (t-22nd)

15 (14th)

Sacks Allowed

29 (9th)

27 (8th)

20-yard Passes

36 (26th)

39 (21st)

Defense (2009)

Bengals

Falcons

Total

301.4  (4th)

364.4 (20th)

Scoring

18.2 (6th)

20.3 (14th)

3rd Downs Allowed

39% (16th)

45% (32nd)

Passing

203.1 (6th)

241.9 (28th)

Passing TDs

18 (8th)

25 (20th)

Rushing

98.3 (7th)

106.9 (10th)

Rushing TDs

12 (14th)

10 (7th)

Sacks

34 (16th)

28 (t-26th)

QB Rating

73.6 (7th)

89.5 (22nd)

20-Yard Passes Allowed

41 (9th)

55 (27th)

Interceptions

19 (t-9th)

15 (16th)

The Game: What a difference a quarterback can make. The Falcons seemed to be lost when quarterback and face of the franchise Michael Vick was busted for his part in an underground dog fighting ring. Enter, Matt Ryan. The young quarterback from Boston College gave the people of Atlanta something to cheer for. With the acquisition of tight end Tony Gonzalez and the emergence of Roddy White and of course, Michael Turner, the Falcons have had an offense not to be taken lightly.

Surprisingly, I think this will be the toughest game of the second quarter of the season. Falcons running back Michael Burner Turner runs behind a tough offensive line. That combined with Matt Ryan's accuracy to a talented group of wide receivers and one of the greatest tight ends to ever take the field will make this a tough team to beat.

Hopefully, somewhere down in Atlanta right now, there's some guy writing an article saying the same thing about the Bengals offense versus the Falcons defense. The Falcons defense has had problems getting to the quarterback in the last couple of seasons and the Bengals offensive line should be good enough to hold off a mediocre pass rush. Atlanta's secondary was toast last season, getting burnt more often than well.... toast. They acquired veteran defensive back Dunta Robinson to try to help address this concern but the Bengals talented corps of wide receivers and new tight end Jermaine Gresham should be enough to exploit their weakness. Carson Palmer will have to be on top of his game to come home from Atlanta with a win.

Week 8 - Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals
Paul Brown Stadium
Sunday October 31

2009 Miami Record: 7-9
Road Record: 3-5
Home Record: 4-4
Head to Head Against Bengals: 12-5
Over Under: 8 ½ Games Over: -120 Under: -110

Key Acquisitions: Karlos Dansby, Tim Dobbins, Richie Incognito, Cory Procter, Brandon Marshal
Key Losses: Akin Ayodele, Nate Jones, Joey Porter, Jason Taylor, Joey Thomas, Reggie Torbor, Gibril Wilson

Miami 2010 NFL Draft Picks: Round 1 (28- from Chargers) Jared Odrick-DT Penn State, Round 2 (40- from Seahawks through Chargers) Koa Misi-DE Utah, Round 3 (73) John Jerry-OT Mississippi, Round 4 (119- from Patriots through Cowboys) A.J. Edds-LB Iowa, Round 5 (145- from 49ers) Nolan Carroll-CB Maryland, Round 5 (163- from Rams through Saints, Eagles and Redskins) Reshad Jones-SS Georgia, Round 7 (212- from Chiefs) Chris McCoy-DL Middle Tennessee State, Round 7 (252- compensatory pick) Austin Spitler-LB Ohio State

Offense (2009)

Bengals

Dolphins

Total 309.1 (24th) 337.6 (17th)
Scoring 19.1  (22nd) 22.5 (15th)
Third Downs 41% (12th) 49% (2nd)
Passing 180.6 (26th) 198.1 (20th)
Passing TDs 21 (16th) 15 (27th)
Rushing 128.5 (9th) 139.4 (4th)
Rushing TDs 9 (t-22nd) 22 (t-1st)
Sacks Allowed 29 (9th) 34 (18th)
20-yard Passes 36 (26th) 29 (31st)
Defense (2009)

Bengals

Dolphins

Total 301.4  (4th) 349.3 (22nd)
Scoring 18.2 (6th) 24.4 (25th)
3rd Downs Allowed 39% (16th) 35% (29th)
Passing 203.1 (6th) 234.6 (24th)
Passing TDs 18 (8th) 23 (18)
Rushing 98.3 (7th) 158.2 (32nd)
Rushing TDs 12 (14th) 16 (21st)
Sacks 34 (16th) 44 (3rd)
QB Rating 73.6 (7th) 86.9 (19th)
20-Yard Passes Allowed 41 (9th) 57 (30th)
Interceptions 19 (t-9th) 15 (16th)

The Game: The Bengals are going to get a nice trick-or-treat bag filled to the brim with the Wildcat offense this Halloween. While that might sound scary, I don't think it's anything to really be terribly afraid of. Call me old fashioned, but I still consider the Wildcat to be more of a gimmick than a bona fide offensive scheme. Since Miami first tested it out a couple years ago, almost every other pro football team tried their hand at it. There's no doubt that Miami is the best at it but there is also no question that the Wildcat is stoppable.

Do you know why the option isn't really utilized in the NFL? One, it's easy to stop if you recognize it quick enough and two, it's an awesome way to get your quarterback hurt. Well the Wildcat is nothing but the option with a fake quarterback and by fake quarterback, I mean Ronnie Brown. If a defense can read what is going to happen and each guy does their job, the Wildcat should be no big deal and if there's any defensive coordinator that can prepare his tough defense to stop an offense like that, it's Mike Zimmer.

So, defensively, I think the Bengals have a good handle on the Wildcat offense, even with the addition of Brandon Marshal, mainly because of Mike Zimmers awesomenessisity. But how will the Bengals offense stand up against a defense that has been pretty tough to score on in the past.

Karlos Dansby should help shore up a defensive unit that struggled last season. Both of Miami's corners, Sean Smith and Vontae Davis, are just entering their sophomore seasons and even though they're good, they probably lack the experience to deal with a Chad Ochocinco and Antonio Bryant on the same field at the same time, let alone Jordan Shipley, Andre Caldwell, Jermaine Gresham or any of the other talented receivers the Bengals will have on their roster this season. If the Bengals offensive line can hold off the Miami pass rush, I think Carson Palmer will pick the Dolphins apart. That's not all though. With the loss of Jason Taylor and Joey Porter and a young defense, Cedric Benson should be able to consistently break into the Dolphin secondary which will open up the passing game even more.

Week 9 - Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
Paul Brown Stadium
Monday Night Football
Monday November 8

2009 Pittsburgh Record: 9-7
Road Record: 3-5
Home Record: 6-2
Head to Head Against Bengals: 47-32
Over Under: 8 ½ Games Over: -130 Under: EVEN

Key Acquisitions: Will Allen, Arnez Battle, Larry Foote, Antwaan Randle El, Jonathan Scott, Matt Stewart
Key Losses: Joey Galloway, Willie Parker, Santonio Holmes

Pittsburgh 2010 NFL Draft Picks: Round 1 (18) Maurkice Pouncey-C Florida, Round 2 (52) Jason Worilds-DE Virginia Tech, Round 3 (82) Emmanuel Sanders-WR Southern Methodist, Round 4 (116) Thaddeus Gibson-DE Ohio State, Round 5 (151) Chris Scott-OT Tennessee, Round 5 (164- Compensatory Pick) Crezdon Butler-CB Clemson, Round 5 (166- Compensatory Pick) Stevenson Sylvester-LB Utah, Round 6 (188) Jonathan Dwyer-RB Georgia Tech, Round 6 (195- From Cardinals) Antonio Brown-WR Central Michigan, Round 7 (242- Compensatory Pick) Doug Worthington-DT Ohio State

TEAM RANKINGS

Offense (2009)

Bengals

Steelers

Total 309.1 (24th) 371.3 (7th)
Scoring 19.1  (22nd) 23 (12th)
Third Downs 41% (12th) 39% (17th)
Passing 180.6 (26th) 259.2 (9th)
Passing TDs 21 (16th) 28 (t-7th)
Rushing 128.5 (9th) 112.1 (19th)
Rushing TDs 9 (t-22nd) 10 (20th)
Sacks Allowed 29 (9th) 50 (31st)
20-yard Passes 36 (26th) 64 (3rd)
Defense (2009)

Bengals

Steelers

Total 301.4  (4th) 305.3 (5th)
Scoring 18.2 (6th) 20.2 (12th)
3rd Downs Allowed 39% (16th) 42% (5th)
Passing 203.1 (6th) 215.4 (16th)
Passing TDs 18 (8th) 22 (14th)
Rushing 98.3 (7th) 89.9 (3rd)
Rushing TDs 12 (14th) 7 (t-4th)
Sacks 34 (16th) 47 (2nd)
QB Rating 73.6 (7th) 83.4 (15th)
20-Yard Passes Allowed 41 (9th) 46 (t-15th)
Interceptions 19 (t-9th) 12 (25th)

The Game: For years the Pittsburgh Steelers had a firm grasp on the AFC North but I believe that the Pittsburgh dynasty has officially come to an end. No matter what anybody says, the evil shenanigans of Ben Roethlisberger have finally caught up with him and the team. With Roethlisberger riding the pine for the first few games and wide receiver Limas Sweed on injured reserve, the Steelers will likely have to go back to their roots of a power running team. Roethlisberger will be back by the time the Steelers make their way to the Queen City but that doesn’t mean that they will automatically transform into a passing team. Roethlisberger lost his number one receiver this offseason when Santonio Holmes was shipped out for being a bad boy. They did acquire Antwaan Randle El (again) but the Steelers receiving corps has been significantly downgraded from last season. This coupled with a run-first offense when Roethlisberger is suspended should cause the Steelers to try to run on the Bengals. Unfortunately for them, the Bengals have been building a you-can’t-run-on-us defense. 

Defensively, the Steelers should be as good as they usually are. Troy Polamalu should be healthy again and when he’s on the field and healthy, Pittsburgh’s defense seems to be on a different level than most. However, if the Bengals can combine the running game from last season with a revitalized passing game, they would give the Steel Curtain of the ‘70s trouble.

This just doesn’t seem to be the same Steelers team that we had to watch beat up on the rest of the AFC North to me. Maybe it’s the fact that the Bengals and the Ravens got better and the Steelers just don’t look as good as they used to. Maybe the Steelers dynasty left with Bill Cowher. Maybe it’s Karma. Who knows. All I know is that the Bengals shouldn’t be fearing their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s the Steelers who should be fearing their trip to Cincinnati for their Monday Night Football game in the jungle.

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