When the Bengals beat the Indianapolis Colts at home to go 4-2, they won their third game in a row heading into the bye week. I think it's safe to say that they have exceeded all of our expectations at this point. After the bye week they'll head out to Seattle to take on the Seahawks and then they'll go to Tennessee to play the Titans. After that they head into a four-game streak against AFC North teams.
But, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, lets take a look at who the Cincy Jungle writers picked as the Week 6 MVPs and Goats.
We'll start with Anthony Cosenza's MVP:
"Andy Dalton. Even with three or four drops by receivers, Dalton was outstanding and incredibly accurate on the day. They wouldn't have had a shot to win yesterday if Dalton didn't play the way that he did."
- Dalton is slowly but surely turning heads around the league. He doesn't put up the numbers that Cam Newton does but he also doesn't make the same mistakes. One of the most impressive aspects of Dalton's game so far is his poise and his ability to make tough plays when he has to. It makes me think of his scouting report coming into the NFL: He doesn't have the strongest arm but he's accurate and he knows how to win.
Dave Wellman's MVP:
"Nate Clements. Though he did take a bad angle on that Colts rushing TD, he also stripped Dallas Clark to set up the team's first score and blocked a 52-yard FG attempt. He was all over the field Sunday and ended up second on the team in tackles. He was even back to return punts once. At the end of the day Johnathan Joseph may still be a better player, but Clements proved his doubters (including me) wrong this week."
- This was by far Clements' best game as a Bengal and the two big plays, causing the Dallas Clark fumble and blocking a field goal that would have tied the game, were huge for the team. There's a decent chance the Bengals wouldn't have beaten the Colts without Clements. Hopefully he keeps it up.
Naji Bsisu's MVP:
"Andrew Whitworth / Andre Smith. They were able to hold Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis to zero sacks while playing them mostly one on one. This is especially impressive for Andre Smith as he is known mostly for his run blocking prowess."
- I didn't think that Whitworth and Smith would be able to keep Freeney and Mathis from getting to the quarterback for the entire game and I definitely didn't think they'd be able to stop them from making a single tackle. It was an outstanding performance by the entire offensive line, especially by Whitworth and Smith. Dalton wasn't sacked once.
And the Goats:
Anthony Cosenza's Goat:
"Cedric Benson--again. He looks slow and unimpressive. I think I've picked him a couple of weeks in a row and he deserves it."
- Yes, Cedric Benson does deserve it. At some point we have to stop blaming the offensive line for not blocking well enough for Benson and start blaming Benson himself. He isn't able to make plays on his own and the Bengals need a running back than can make plays from time to time.
Dave Wellman's Goat:
"Since Ced is already taken, I'll go with Morgan Trent, whose dumb pass interference penalty set up the Dallas Clark TD grab (a great catch, by the way). Trent has been in the NFL for three years and ought to know by now that he has to turn his head and look for the ball, otherwise it's a flag every time. That mistake made it a three-point game and had the Bengals been playing a team even slightly better might have cost them the game."
- With Leon Hall, Nate Clements and Kelly Jennings already on the roster, Trent will lose considerable playing time when Adam Jones comes back to the team (probably). Really though, you know a team played pretty well when a player was named a goat based on one play.
Naji Bsisu's Goat:
"Bernard Scott. Scott received a season high 11 attempts but only managed 29 yards. He did nothing to show that he deserves more carries at Benson's expense. If he would like to earn more playing time he needs to step up when given the opportunity."
- Who would have thought that the weakness of the Bengals offense heading into the 2011 season would be the running game. With Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott and a rookie quarterback most figured that the Bengals would run the ball down opposing defense's throats, but that hasn't been the case. Neither Benson nor Scott have been able to do anything impressive. Hopefully the Bengals move in a new direction in 2012.