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The Daily Banter: Now The Fun Really Begins

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+ Schedule Picks Up. Now that the weekend is over, and the Bengals resume work this week to prepare for the Atlanta Falcons, hopefully welcoming Jonathan Fanene and Jordan Shipley back into the fold. Along with the Falcons, the Bengals kick start the remainder of their schedule where eight of their next 11 games are against teams with a winning record. Combined, the Bengals remaining schedule sports teams with a combined winning percentage of 56% -- and that factors three teams with four losses or more.

Opponent Wins Losses
Atlanta Falcons 4 2
Miami Dolphins 3 2
Pittsburgh Steelers 4 1
Indianapolis Colts 4 2
Buffalo Bills 0 5
New York Jets 5 1
New Orleans Saints 4 2
Pittsburgh Steelers 4 1
Cleveland Browns 1 5
San Diego Chargers 2 4
Baltimore Ravens 4 2

So far the Bengals record of 2-3 is against five teams that have a combined .444 winning percentage.

Pittsburgh Is The Team To Beat In Division. If you combine the losses to the Browns and Buccaneers, the Bengals were outscored by only six points. If you combine the same point differential against the Browns and Buccaneers, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team many promote as the best in the NFL, beat both teams by a combined 43 points. Aside from losing to Baltimore, the teams that are beating the Bengals, the Steelers are destroying.

The Bengals are already in catch-up mode now to made it a three-team race in the division. We'll now see the true "maturity" and "character" of this team from here on out. Will they play like the mediocre average team that we've seen this year, or will they pump their chests out and bring hell to the league?

+ Willie Anderson was more than just a Pro Bowl level offensive tackle, he was often a team leader. Since he's left, that void wasn't quickly filled and the Bengals truly lacked a strong leadership presence that was, as Kevin Goheen writes, " an extension of the coach in the locker room, an enforcer and example of the change that Lewis wanted to bring."

Andrew Whitworth has become that man. Bobbie Williams says of Whitworth.

"You can't be one of the 'Word' if you don't practice what you preach," said right guard Bobbie Williams. "I think he's definitely widely respected and his actions speak loud. He works hard, he studies and he brings guys along. That's what you have to do if you're going to be a leader on this team. You have to bring guys along with you."

+ After the heartbreaking loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Geoff Hobson writes that the Bengals tend to rebound after such losses.

+ While dissecting the team's lack of an offensive identity, Joe Reedy writes that while the team is ranked ninth with 351.4 yards/total per game, they have scored only four touchdowns in their previous 14 red zone appearances. Speaking of Reedy, he didn't grade anyone on offense or defense higher than a C+ through five games.