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Bengals Banter: Because Guitar Hero just doesn't imitate real life.

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Thanksgiving came and went. Football. Food. Family. Even friends later in the day. It's always a great holiday. You get to reflect on things you're thankful for. Health for my family is always most important. Thankful that I live in the greatest country on the planet. I am thankful for this site and for all of you, who make this site great. I'm also thankful for my team of writers bringing different perspectives to the table, and sometimes, giving me a spell to deal with real life issues. I'm thankful for a lot of things I take for granted.

I spent most of my Thanksgiving playing Guitar Hero III with my brother and sister. I started on easy. Then went to Medium difficulty; using the blue note on a four-button harmony of total rock. I pumped my arm into the air a few times when I recorded 95% accuracy scores. I even did a Gene Simmons tongue roll. I tried Expert. I rocked for all about five seconds before I was booed off stage. Here's the thing. I've been playing guitar, real guitar, since before I was ten years old. I used to know every Metallica song by heart. Now, I know every Dave Matthews song (trust me, the ladies love it). But Guitar Hero? I looked foolish. Everytime I missed a note, everyone in the room heard it. I nervously laughed my embarrassment. I tried playing Metallica's One. I did good. Until the song went into ultrafast mode at the end. I got booed again. Feeling bad for me, my sister and I teamed up. She played guitar, I played bass. I was better. But it was a bit boring. Until you get to the end of Santana's Black Magic Woman. We had to play that three times before I nailed it.

Either way, it was a great Thanksgiving and I hope you all enjoyed it as well.

Now, let's talk Bengals football.

Domata Peko invited to Jonathan Fanene to Thanksgiving dinner. "The invitation soon spread to all of the Polynesian players on the roster, their families, and any other player without a place to go." Other teammates are joining others. Kyle Cook hosted Tom Nelson and Jonathan Luigs, "where they'll deep-fry a turkey." Chris Crocker visited with Kyries Hebert and Leon Hall. Pat Sims hosted a dinner at a homeless shelter earlier in the week, while Frostee Rucker "sponsored families for a Thanksgiving Shopping spree at the Hyde Park Kroger in Cincinnati."

So if one more person questions this team character, then we'll officially nominate them for Ass-Clown of the Week. Agreed?

Browns defensive tackle Shaun Rodgers has missed two practices this week. So has Cedric Benson, Laveranues Coles and Domata Peko. As for Benson, he was on the field doing rehab work this week, and is expected to practice on Friday.

The Bengals haven't allowed any team to rush for 100 yards in six straight games in 2009. That's a franchise record for one season.

WDR says offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski sucks because the Bengals run the football 59% of the time on first down (to correct TMQ, the Bengals run 57.7% of the time on first downs). The Bengals average 4.04 yards per rush on first downs. When they pass the football, Cincinnati averages 7.24 yards. On second down, Cincinnati rushes 54% of the time averaging 4.3 yards-per-rush, which is one yard more than the 5.4-yard passing average. More importantly, on what down do the Cincinnati Bengals convert their first downs?

Down Plays First Downs Conversion
First Down 281 55 20%
Second Down 212 63 30%
Third Down 141 58 41%
Fourth Down 10 7 70%

Stats from NFL Game Statistics and Game Information.

But we have to go back to January, when Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said that this offense was going to be a different offense. At the time, we didn't know what that meant. A week later, Bob Bratkowski elaberated on what Marvin Lewis wanted, saying that the head coach wanted "to be a more physical team that runs the ball better."

"From my conversations with him, we're not throwing everything out. It's more adding in some new things," Bratkowski said. "When you're talking about a system, you're talking terminology, protections, run scheme and those things that can be adjusted. We've discussed it and we still haven't finalized it. I know what direction he wants to go: run it so we can play-action it and throw the ball down field. That's the direction he wants to go."

Pat Kirwin has his own take, saying that success follows teams that run the football. Whatever you think of Bratkowski, it's Lewis that wants this team to pound the football more and more.

Joe Reedy talks about Chinedum Ndukwe's relationship with Brady Quinn, who have been great friends since the seventh grade. They'll face each other for the first time in their respective NFL careers.

I haven't always agreed with James Walker's assessments. But I'm behind this 100%. " is time for the Caldwell experiment on kickoff returns to end." Again. Love Caldwell. He's the future of this team. But not as a kick returner.

Bengals are still the number two seed in the conference by way of strength of schedule.