By now you have probably read about CBS Sports writer Pete Prisco picking the Bengals to win the division and make it to the AFC title game. Pat Kirwan,a former coach and NFL scout, also recently made his predictions for CBS Sports. He thinks that the Bengals will finish in third place in the AFC North, recording a 9-7 record. Sounds familiar eh? This is what Kirwan had to say about the Bengals:
"Cincinnati is an emerging team, but one that possibly had an inflated record last season when you consider it went 0-7 against playoff teams -- averaging only 16 points in those games. The Bengals' defense is solid with a strong defensive line rotation. As for the draft I thought it was excellent -- adding at least six players who will contribute in 2012. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a perceived upgrade from last year's running back, Cedric Benson, but he better produce more than the 1,149 yards and six touchdowns Benson produced. QB Andy Dalton is an emerging star but six touchdown passes and seven interceptions in seven games against playoff teams isn't good enough."
Many of you know that Kirwan recently complained on his Twitter account that he was tired of people evaluating players that have never coached or worked in the NFL. Far be it from me to take issue with anything Kirwan says, but I have a small issue. He writes that Green-Ellis has to put up better numbers that Benson to be an upgrade. While Green-Ellis should get more than six touchdowns, it is a bit of a stretch to say that he has to produce more than 1,149 rush yards, Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden will be mixing and matching Green-Ellis and Bernard Scott, forming a running back -by- committee. This means that Green-Ellis may not have to put up even 1,000 yards to be considered an upgrade. The Bengals want Green-Ellis to be a reliable back, which entails not fumbling the football, and scoring touchdowns inside the red zone. Gruden will also likely call more passing plays this season, reducing the number of carries that the running backs receive. Kirwan also writes that Dalton struggled against playoff teams, which is true. But Dalton had a better touchdown-to-interception ratio than Panthers quarterback Cam Newton against playoff teams. Newton had nine touchdowns and 14 interceptions against teams that made the playoffs. Both also had the same number of games (seven) against playoff teams. Kirwan does say that Dalton is a future star, so it is fair to say that Evan Silva did not help Kirwan right the article.