The Monday Touchdown: Still Alive Part Two

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 24: Jermaine Gresham #84 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after making an 11-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Cardinals 23-16. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

It all comes down to this. If the Bengals beat the Ravens in Week 17 they're in the playoffs and if they lose they're out. This is one of the biggest games in recent Bengals history. One of the main reasons the Bengals are in the position in which they control their own destiny, is because of their Week 16 win over the Arizona Cardinals. So, before we move on to the Week 17 matchup against the Ravens, let's take another look back at the Bengals' Week 16 game.

Point One: Benson is fumbling his way to free agency.

Congratulations to Cedric Benson rushing over 1,000 yards in three straight seasons. Now that I've gotten that out of the way I can say that Benson's chances of getting re-signed by the Bengals are dwindling, especially after he has fumbled five times in the last two games. Benson hadn't fumbled at all until Week 15 when he fumbled three times in the Bengals win over the Rams in St. Louis. Luckily the Bengals recovered each one of those fumbles but the two fumbles he had in the very next game were both lost. The Bengals almost lost the game because of Benson inability to hang on to the football and I wouldn't be surprised to see more Bernard Scott on Sunday against the Ravens.

Benson's last two games have not helped him secure a job again in Cincinnati in 2012 and it's more than likely that he'll be playing somewhere else.

Point Two: Simpson's TD was the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen

When Jerome Simpson flipped over top of an Arizona Cardinals defenseman and into the end zone, landing on his feet, I couldn't believe it. It showed Simpson's ridiculous athleticism and also showed what Simpson has the capability to do. Unfortunately I wouldn't be surprised if the Bengals parted ways with Simpson at the end of the season due to his inconsistency, but he definitely has the tools to be a very successful wide receiver in the NFL.

It would be a shame to see Simpson go to another team and flourish but I could see that happening.

Point Three: Maualuga is coming into his own

Rey Maualuga isn't having a pro bowl season, or even a break out season, but it's painfully obvious that middle linebacker is where he belongs. All Maualuga needs is a little more time to turn into a pro-bowl caliber middle linebacker. After his game against the Texans, Rams and the Cardinals, when he got his first interception of the season, he's finishing the 2011 regular season on a hight note and building a solid foundation for his 2012 season.

Point Four: Dunlap is back

Hamstring injuries can be tricky and hard to recover from. Last week in St. Louis, Carlos Dunlap played his first full game since Week 9 and he struggled at times. This weekend against Arizona he looked like the same old defensive end. Not only did Dunlap record his first sack since Week 9 but that wasn't all he did. He also hit John Skelton twice and pressured him four times. He was one of the biggest reasons for Skelton's struggles throughout the game, especially in the first half.

He barely played against the Ravens in Week 11 and I'm excited to see what he can do in Week 17.

Point Five: I'd rather see Whalen than Caldwell in Week 17

Ryan Whalen caught three passes for 20 yards against the Cardinals in Week 16. He only has four catches so far this season but I would rather see Whalen active on Sunday against the Ravens than I would Andre Caldwell. Caldwell, while talented, has a way of disappearing in big games and I feel that Whalen might actually be the better bet. I say the Bengals play Whalen and give him another chance to see what he can do. Besides, he seems to be a more true slot receiver than Caldwell does.

Point Six: The Bengals are lucky

The Bengals went into the fourth quarter with a 23-0 lead but after a massive meltdown which including Benson fumbles and a defensive let down, they found themselves in a position where they could face overtime as the Cardinals were driving to tie the game. The Cardinals could have tied the game in the last minutes had a wide open receiver not fallen down in the end zone.

They won't get lucky like that in Week 17.

Extra Point: Bengals need to play a complete game

It seems that the Bengals either come out swinging in the first half and then fade away in the second half or they hang back in the first half and then come out hard in the second. That's a mark of a young team but if they want to head to the playoffs in 2011, they need to play well in the first and second half. There is no second-half comebacks against teams like the Ravens. The Bengals need to play a complete game in which they never take their foot off the gas.

It's going to be a tough game but I honestly like the Bengals' chances.

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