The Bengals set themselves up to be in control of their own destiny. With a win in Week 17 against the Ravens, the Bengals are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. With a loss, they're more than likely out. Before we jump too far ahead though, let's take a look at Joe Goodberry's, Dave Wellman's and Anthony Cosenza's MVPs and Goats from Week 16.
Anthony Cosenza's MVP:
"Jermaine Gresham: The guy called me out on the article I wrote about him on Friday. He made a couple of huge catches, including a tough TD grab to put the team up 10-0. The Bengals needed guys other than A.J. Green to step up and Gresham was one."
- Gresham made a huge grab in the end zone to give the Bengals their first touchdown of the game. He also led the Bengals in receiving with 56 yards. This is how the Bengals need to use Gresham every week and if he has this same kind of game against Baltimore this coming weekend, I like the Bengals' chances.
Dave Wellman's MVP:
"The Invisible Turf Monster: T-Mon came up big for the Bengals last Saturday, tripping up Cardinals wide receiver Early Doucet, who was wide open at the goal line. Had the Turf Monster not planked Doucet, he would have scored the tying touchdown and propelled the game toward overtime. Given how the momentum had shifted so dramatically in the fourth quarter -- due almost entirely to "Butterfingers" Benson -- does anyone believe the Bengals would have come out of OT with a win? Especially with Mike Nugent having an off-day? I don't. So thank you, Invisible Turf Monster."
- Doucet's trip in the end zone was about as lucky of a play that can possibly exist. Had he not tripped, he would have caught that pass, due to the fact that he was wide open, and would have forced overtime. At that point in the game, the Cardinals had all the momentum and there would have been no guarantee that the Bengals would have won.
Joe Goodberry's MVP:
"Jonathan Fanene: A dominant performance from out of Fanene on Saturday. He usually only plays 20-30 snaps a week because he's a situational pass rusher from the inside. With the Cardinals abandoning the run midway through the first half, the Bengals were stuck in their nickel defense for the majority of the game. With the increase in snaps, Fanene was allowed to completely disrupt the Cardinals passing attack through the first three quarters. The entire line wore down in the 4th quarter, and Fanene was the only player still getting pressure."
- Fanene made a very great team with Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap in the second half. John Skelton was constantly under pressure from the Bengals defensive line and Fanene was a huge part of that. He, and the rest of the defensive line, deserve a lot of credit for the situation the Bengals are in right now.
And the Goats......
Anthony Cosenza's Goat:
"Cedric Benson: Could there be an easier pick than Cedric Benson this week? The guy almost fumbled the game away with two late ones. Instead of sealing the game by chewing clock and getting first downs, Cedric fumbled for the fifth time in two games. When will he be benched?"
- Benson has coughed the ball up five times in the last two games. Luckily the Bengals recovered three of those fumbles but it could have easily cost the Bengals one of their last two wins. I think that we may see a lot more Bernard Scott on Sunday against Baltimore than we're used to.
Dave Wellman's Goat:
"Mike Nugent: Nuge has been money all year but choked twice Saturday, first on a 48-yard attempt, which can be forgiven given the distance, but then again on a perfectly makable 35-yarder. If he hits either of those, all the fourth-quarter drama doesn't happen because the Bengals are still up two scores with under a minute to play. Just as the Bengals cannot afford to have Benson putting the ball on the ground two or three times a game, they need Nugent to be automatic to counter their struggles punching it in in the red zone."
- Nugent has been pretty automatic this season but in the Bengals' Week 16 game he almost blew it. He missed two of his five field goals and both of those misses were from manageable distances. He was able to bounce back and make two field goals after he missed two in a row but there are a lot of games decided by less than six points.
Joe Goodberry's Goat:
"Benson/Nugent: You cannot argue with picking Nugent or Benson and I won't even try. With the extra six points that the usually reliable Mike Nugent left off the scoreboard, the game was way closer than it needed to be. Then when Cedric Benson kept giving the Cardinals chances to come back, I couldn't think of any other player who deserved this 'award' more than Benson. What does a player have to do to lose their starting job on this team?"
- That's an excellent point. I'm more inclined to demote Benson than Nugent but mistakes can't be made when everything is on the line. Hopefully both Benson and Nugent shake off their mistakes from Saturday by the time they take the field on Sunday afternoon.