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Predictions are bad, but not the nine-lives of opportunity

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Predictions are always a bad thing, solidifying expectations based on perceptions of what's acceptable to your argument. I'm a stat junkie; I also understand that stats aren't the substance to any story. With that said, I don't foresee, feel, expect, predict, envision, or for that matter have any suspicion of hope, that the Bengals will win Sunday. In fact, competition might be a generous word, if one can a reason outside the "anything can happen" model of NFL prophesy. So brooding and complaining could be heard in between throwing darts with Mike Brown's picture on the target.

Then it makes you think. Why? Why do we harbor "fandom" for a team notorious for being perennial losers -- even Marvin Lewis has failed to achieve multiple winning seasons. Is it location, home town team? Is it a family tradition? Is it nostalgic? Is it simply the NFL experience? I dare not question someone's loyalty to a fan -- if you think about it, I write about them all the time, hover around the site during game day, so I'm the least qualified to ask. But I was wondering. What's the name of that string that still attaches you to this team?

You know, a little foresight never hurt. For the third straight game, Levi Jones will be unavailable against the Colts with a "back/leg/hamstring" that's difficult to pin the exact problem, giving rookie Anthony Collins his third NFL start. We've said from the outset that the Bengals should consider throwing Jones on IR, allow him to recover fully for 2009 if they plan on keeping him next year. Experience for the young guy, recovery time for the injured guy. Win, win.

NFL defines opportunity differently. When you are given an opportunity of a lifetime, what do you do? It really doesn't matter the answer, but the opportunity in front of you is likely one of very few that you'll ever receive. Unlike the NFL, where opportunity is like a cat; scratch one off, you have eight left. If guys like Chris Henry and Adam Jones are anything, they're evidence of that.

Which receiver stays, which goes? T.J. Houshmandzadeh said, "One way or another it will be, I think, whether it's him or me," in response to which receiver returns next season. We're growing more confident that the Bengals will franchise Houshmandzadeh if the two sides can't agree on a contract extension, which, based on Collins and another offensive tackle drafted, will exclude Stacy Andrews in the 2009 plans. We have no reason to believe that the Bengals will severe ties with Chad Johnson next year either. If I were to make a prediction right now, and predictions are a bad thing, then I wouldn't be surprised if both receivers return next season.

Former Bengals Keiwan Ratliff. "They're going to franchise T.J. He ain't going anywhere," Ratliff said "chuckling".

Palmer is listening to you.

"I actually listen to talk radio," he said. "You see people around town and everyone's as positive as could be, where as everything on the radio is as negative as can be.

"I think there's a difference between what you hear on the radio and read compared to what everyday fans, neighbors, people at the grocery store, whatever it may be, are saying. I ran into someone who just wanted us to beat the Steelers to make the season — just beat the Steelers."

Come back now, y'here? Cedric Benson is "open" to returning to the Bengals next year, even if the Bengals select a running back high in the draft. Should the Bengals want him back?