We're a little late on this, due to various Christmas activities. Most around the nation are pointing out Cincinnati's position as the sixth seed in the playoffs, securing it with a win this weekend against the Baltimore Ravens. Others were highly impressed with Jerome Simpson's touchdown.
Don Banks with Sports Illustrated writes:
Even if the Bengals don't wind up going to the playoffs, at the start of the season, who in their right mind thought they would be playing at home in Week 17 for the chance to clinch a wild-card berth? Not me. I picked them to be the worst team in the NFL this preseason. It's a remarkable job turned in by head coach Marvin Lewis, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, and first-year offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.
If Zimmer and Gruden aren't among the league coordinators given strong consideration and interviewed for vacant head coaching jobs, someone hasn't been paying attention this year.
Jason Cole with Yahoo! Sports writes about Jerome Simpson:
By now, you have undoubtedly seen the vaulting 19-yard touchdown catch and run by Cincinnati wide receiver Jerome Simpson, which featured Simpson nailing a landing straight out of an Olympic gymnastics competition. That was the kind of athletic ability everyone saw from Simpson when he was a second-round pick from Coastal Carolina in 2008. The sad part is this is the same guy who may face federal charges for a 2.5-pound marijuana delivery to his home in September. The Bengals have spent four years trying to nurture Simpson into being a great player. He’s still not quite there, but that play on Saturday shows why the team has been so patient with him. At the same time, he’s a Bengal, through and through.
Cole also argues for Cam Newton as the offensive rookie of the year, but says Dalton should receive consideration.
Of course, there is also Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton, whose passing numbers are similar to Newton’s. Dalton has completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 3,166 yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. More important, Dalton has the Bengals at 9-6 and currently in the playoffs if the postseason started today. The team accomplishment is certainly worth (as is the performance of fellow Bengals rookie A.J. Green). However, there is something dominant about Newton with his combination of size, and running and throwing ability. He has exceeded all expectations and has helped turn a team that was hopeless in 2010 (the Panthers were 2-14 and scored less than 20 points in 14 games) into one of the league’s most exciting. The 6-9 Panthers are averaging a shade under 26 points a game this season (389 points). If Carolina had a somewhat reasonable defense (they have given up 384 points, the fifth-most in the league), they might be in the playoff picture, too.
Matt Bowen of the National Football Post writes:
Win and you are in. Easy way to look at it from the perspective of the Bengals with the Ravens coming to town this week. No question the Baltimore defense will be a tough matchup for Andy Dalton, Cedric Benson, A.J. Green, etc. However, this is a Ravens team that is without WR Anquan Boldin and struggles to play good football on the road (3-4 on the season). A great opportunity for Marvin Lewis and his rookie QB to get in the post-season tournament with a win.
Clark Judge of CBSSports.com writes:
Jerome Simpson's touchdown vault. I haven't seen a landing like that since San Diego's Gary Anderson stuck a mid-air somersault 25 years ago vs. Miami in the 1986 season opener. "I stuck the landing like a gymnast," said Simpson. "It was pretty awesome, I thought." I'll second that.