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Thursday Links and Notes: Are we being fooled with the stat of the Bengals defense ranked 12th?

+ If upbeat Bengals news doesn't fire up your fanaticism heading into the NFL Draft (or if you're just a miserable fan after a decade-plus of abuse... we feel ya!), then this Shutdown Corner post should make one optimistic -- if not for the simple case of humor in regards to the Madden curse.

Those of you who believe in the Madden Curse will be pleased to learn that the Madden people are considering spreading their misery even further by putting two people on the cover. The duo they're considering, according to, would be Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu.

Honestly, I never "hope" for injury on any player -- except maybe Kimo Von Olfloppin-into-Carsons-knee (sorry, I won't let that go until I collect retirement) -- but if the Madden Curse remains, and if this Shutdown Corner post proves correct, all I can say is: Bengals, AFC North Champs, 2009!

+ I know that most people are happy about the Bengals defense finishing the season ranked 12th overall. However, are we being fooled by the stat? Before each game, I put together what I call a Primer -- a collection of stats relevant to that game. For a majority of the season, the Bengals overall defense ranked in the low to mid-20s. The chart below is the season's final five games and where the Bengals defense ranked before playing that opponent.

Opponent Overall Pass Rush
Ravens 21st 15th 24th
Colts 24th 20th 24th
Redskins 24th 22nd 23rd
Browns 22nd 18th 23rd
Chiefs 21st 14th 24th
Total 12th 15th 21st

Thanks in large part to a 182-yard allowed effort against the Browns, and 220-yard effort against the Chiefs, the Bengals defensive rankings surged; especially nine spots after playing the Chiefs.

+ Barbaro called. He said stop kicking me. You can go two years without an actual problem, but that won't stop the New York Times from blatantly dusting off a news story about character problems that's outdated.

News item 1: Bengals cornerback Leon Hall was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

News item 2: The Bengals have signed Tank Johnson, who has been on a first-name basis with trouble. Johnson joins a roster that includes at least a half-dozen players who have had recent run-ins with the law, including Chris Henry and Cedric Benson.

Then again, it's the New York Times. Moving on is hardly their specialty.

Moving on...

Would you honestly want the first overall pick, and who would draft a tight end in the first round?

Beanie Wells missed a flight and missed a visit with the Denver Broncos. Something about tOSU running backs and the Denver Broncos.

Even though he was charged with a DUI, that's not going to deflect his quality work and leadership within the community. Hopefully the "holier than thous" out there can say the same thing for themselves before ripping Hall.

Bengals are liking Michael Oher over Andre Smith.

Is John Thornton hinting at retirement? "I wish the Bengals well, I’ll be rooting for them, and I may be covering them as well…..maybe(hint).  I have a lot of friends at PBS, players and coaches, so I definitely want them to do well."

The Times Union had a mock draft, throwing in trades; Tampa Bay traded with Cincinnati for the sixth pick, giving the Bengals Michael Oher with the 19th selection. The Bengals also traded with New York (possibly for Chad Johnson?) and received the Giants 29th pick. Cincinnati drafted wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.

Would you take a look at Duke Robinson as an eventual Bobbie Williams replacement?

Carson Palmer has the most to prove this year. We don't think so. We think that Bob Bratkowski has the most to prove, who was reportedly encouraged to change things.

The Bengals are smoking crack if they think they can get a first and third round pick for Chad Johnson. The Oakland Raiders are also reportedly cold for a Chad Johnson trade.

MLB Network's MLB Tonight (post-game show for all the games) is impressive as hell. Good analysis and Barry Larkin. That's all I need.