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Bengals pre-game thoughts against the Chiefs

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Honestly, I don't see the value of "keys" for predicting a 16-game season. Too much happens in the NFL for one person, with mad stats and trends, to accurately conclude a team's final record. And I don't see why anyone would value the opinion of what will happen this season from some dope like me. If you ask me, I'll tell you we'll go undefeated. Now you're laughing, aren't you? Well, you asked.

Some publications will have a "five keys" to winning the game. My only key is simple, score more than the other team. I'm a simple person that likes to direct complicated predictions to prophets and messiahs. Unfortunately, I'm neither -- as far as I can envision.

If you've read this blog on a daily basis, my expectations, from a Cincinnatian perspective are posted throughout the week. But I can't claim what to expect from the Chiefs because I don't know much about them other than what I read at Arrowhead Pride. I don't know how the Bengals defense will perform -- I expect great things with personnel changes and added experience. But "experts" are quick to predict we'll be the same as last season. What do I know? I expect when the Bengals have the ball, they'll score. Is that fair? I don't know; it's the fan coming out of me. When the Chiefs have the ball, I expect Sam Adams to crush the running game and Deltha O'Neal to pick off a pass. Is that right? I don't know; it's the fan coming out of me. See, I have a bit of a biased point of view. But realistically, I don't know what will happen. I can only point out what we're going into Sunday with.

Hobson's match-ups

I want to thank Chris at Arrowhead Pride for posting this link. It's "Real"Fotball 365's week one predictions. They say the Bengals will lose simply because they're playing at Arrowhead. Other than that, from the initial comments, they believe the Bengals are the superior team:

Carson Palmer is healthy, and the Bengals are hungry. The Chiefs have looked awful in the preseason, and still have plenty of question marks on defense

INJURY WILL AFFECT THE PASSING GAME
I think the biggest concern is injury. Chris Perry and Antonio Chatman are out. David Pollack missed most of pre-season with a hamstring injury. But the biggest question is the health of T.J. Houshmandzadeh -- a game-time decision. If T.J. is forced to sit out, that leaves the following receivers:

  1. Chad Johnson
  2. Chris Henry
  3. Tab Perry
  4. Kelley Washington
That's it. We're limited with two tight-ends who are blocking specialists. Jeremi Johnson's ability to catch and run out of the flats could provide some relief. While he had only 12 receptions last season, three went for touchdown. Jeremi is a receiving threat out of the backfield near the goal-line.

Injured heel might sideline T.J.
O'Neal, Pollack, Adams are probable for opener

Scouts.com (via ESPN Insider, paid service) examines the match-ups.

Why To Watch
This game pits two teams that are thinking playoffs. For the Bengals, they got Carson Palmer back from his offseason knee surgery. We know the Bengals are gong to be explosive on the offensive side of the ball, but where is the defense right now? Will this team finally be able to step up and stop the run? Speaking of running the football, the Chiefs have one of the best in the game in Larry Johnson. Had Johnson been the starter all of last season, he would have made a serious run at the NFL's single season rushing record.

The biggest position unit under the microscope in this one? It has to be the Chiefs' offensive line. Gone are the two bookend OTs, Willie Roaf and John Welbourn, who opted for retirement prior to the start of training camp. The biggest reason to watch this game? How about Bengals WR Chad Johnson. Is he making another list? And if so, will Ty Law become the first victim to earn the dreaded check mark?

FORGET WEEK 17 OF LAST SEASON
The Bengals starting safeties, against the Chiefs last season, were Kevin Kaesviharn and Ifeanyi Ohalete. Kaesviharn is a career back-up and Ohalete is out of the NFL. This season, it's Madieu Williams and Dexter Jackson. Also out that game: Deltha O'Neal, Levi Jones and Bryan Robinson. Carson Palmer only played the first quarter and the entire offense was gone by half-time.

That game meant nothing to the Bengals other than rest. If "experts" and fans take that game as a pre-curser for Sunday, then both are grasping at straws for pre-game analysis.

Take 2 (another ESPN insider) suggests the Chiefs will win 27-23. Maybe it's just me, but I don't understand how people conclude these scores. They're sports meteorologists that say it could rain, might have a cloud, and the temps should hover between 60 and 90 degrees.

Take 2 discusses the same things we've (Cincy Jungle and Arrowhead Pride) have talked about already. They say the Chiefs offensive line and full back spots are suspect. There's bad blood between the teams because Marvin Lewis felt the Chiefs ran the score up last season. The Bengals run defense has improved with the return of Williams and the free agent signing of Sam Adams. About the Bengals offensive line:

* Speaking of offensive line play, is there group in the NFL as unheralded as the Cincinnati's big hogs upfront? They will return the same group as last season. This is a group that blocked for the 11th ranked run game and sixth best offense, and a unit that finished the 2005 season ranked second in sacks allowed. Throw in the fact that ROT Willie Anderson got his much deserved contract extension and you have to feel very good about this group.

We know the Bengals like to throw the ball all over the stadium, but we expect them to try to come out this week and establish their run game too. Marvin Lewis has spent the entire offseason talking about playing in the physical AFC North and needing to be able to run the ball and defend the run.


Click here for more.

A lot of people, me included, are wondering what will happen if Chad Johnson scores a touchdown. Now that the league has tightened the screws on "sportsmanship" celebrations, Johnson will have to work over-time to find creative celebrations.

Personally, I don't care what he does -- unless he does the river-dance. Just as long as he scores touchdowns and doesn't punish the team with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty, I'll be fine. However, if T.J. sits out, I really hope Washington gets to dance. Please take the time out to watch this.

I said a few times this pre-season that I thought Kenny Watson was on the bubble and could be this season's surprise cut. I was wrong. My reasoning was that he was out the entire 2005 season (albeit a bicep injury), played sparingly in pre-season and didn't look like the Watson I remembered. Now his role is critical to mirror some of the third-down magic Chris Perry had.

The Cincinnati Enquirer published their five keys to the season. I call it Mr. Obvious' Football 101 class on how to win in the NFL.


FIVE KEYS TO THE SEASON

Keep opposing defenses off of Palmer. Backup QB's Anthony Wright and Doug Johnson had good preseasons but Palmer is an elite player.

The Bengals led the league in turnover margin last season and there was a direct correlation between taking the ball away, keeping it once they had it and winning.

Scoring points shouldn't be a problem. It's stopping opponents that proved too much to overcome last season. In the last eight games the Bengals allowed an average of 31 points per game. That must improve dramatically.

The defense has to get off of the field when turnovers don't come its way. The Bengals were 30th in the league last season allowing 42.6 percent third-down conversions.

The Bengals will have to quickly learn how to play when they are the favorites. They are a legitimate championship contender and opponents won't overlook them anymore.

I'm ready for the season. I'm ready to read articles that have new material; not the same articles with different titles. I'm ready for the Bengals to go undefeated and win with a 50-point scoring margin (damn, the fan in me came out again). In honor of all the experts, analysis and the Enquirer's Mr. Obvious keys to the season, I think the main key to a successful 2006 season is "win games." Sorry but I like to keep things simple.