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Chronicle: Bengals are young, Geno is recovering, #Deflatelife

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We take a look at a collection of stories, concerning the Bengals and the NFL. What are your thoughts?

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

+ The Cincinnati Bengals have the 10th-youngest teamaccording ESPN's Matt Williamson. Of course, as a thinking man's man, the first question you have task is how does one categorize and rank such a thing? He writes:

"That's what we're attempting to do with these rankings of all 32 teams based on their 25-and-under talent. Here's how we looked at it: If you were to take over one team in the NFL to run for the next 10 years based on the young players in its organization, which would you pick? We took into account positional value, durability and contract status. Also, the rankings were a bit of a balancing act, because we don't want to punish the Packers too much for not having a franchise quarterback who is 25 years old when they have the league's best QB who is in the prime of his career."

Alright.

Williamson cites players like Vontaze Burfict, Kevin Zeitler and Tyler Eifert. But as you can imagine, the focus is on Cincinnati's young running backs:

Giovani Bernard, RB (23): His fantasy owners will disagree, but Bernard will be better off in the long run from having Jeremy Hill to take some of his carries away from him. Bernard dealt with injuries this season, and he's best used in a variety of ways to take advantage of his dynamic abilities with the ball in his hand.

Jeremy Hill, RB (22): Hill is the youngest player on Cincinnati's roster and an excellent complement to Bernard, with very good strength and physicality as a runner.

Cincinnati currently has 42 players on their roster who are 25-years-old or younger. Of those, 16 are starters or significant contributors.

+ Fox Sports NFL Insider Jay Glazer offered the Monday stunner when he reported that the league has acquired surveillance video possibly linking a Patriots locker room-attendant to #Deflategate. The report says that the attendant took the footballs in question into another room, "before bringing them out to the field."

The person of interest was already interviewed by the league. The NFL is trying to determine whether any wrongdoing by this individual occurred, sources tell FOX Sports. There is surveillance video showing the attendant taking the footballs from the official's locker room into another room at Gillette Stadium before bringing them out to the field, sources tell FOX Sports. The NFL confiscated 11 of 12 footballs at halftime that were under the league-mandated air pressure of 12.5 PSI. The league has since launched an investigation into the matter.

According to Pro Football Talk

First, per a league source, the other "area on way to field" is a bathroom. The bathroom consists of one toilet and one sink and a door that locks from the inside. Second, according to the same source, the person carried two bags of balls into the bathroom: the 12 balls to be used by the Patriots and the 12 balls to be used by the Colts. Third, from the same source, the evidence comes from a surveillance video that was discovered by the Patriots and given to the NFL early in the investigation.

Yahoo! Sports reporter Dan Wetzel wrote on Monday that the league may have had prior knowledge of #deflategate before the AFC Championship game.

If so then the NFL was willing to let New England use a deflated football to its advantage for the first half of a game with the Super Bowl on the line, rather than stop the contest immediately and check, or even just warn the Patriots of their concerns prior to kickoff to make sure everything was fair and square for all 60 minutes.

If true... the Indianapolis Colts should explore legal options. Obviously, they won't. Owner Jim Irsay sent out a tweet saying that "we are confident the NFL and commissioner will address the concerns that arose from our (Championship) game". In the meantime, the NFL has found their scapegoat -- a Patriots locker room attendant who acted alone (bullsh*t) -- and the New England Patriots will play in the Super Bowl this Sunday.

+ Geno Atkins wasn't Geno Atkins. Apply all of the arbitrary scoring systems you want in the hopes to prove this point wrong: If Geno Atkins passed your seeing-eye test, you're 1) not looking hard enough 2) are too infatuated with player romanticism 3) are four years old. This wasn't an Atkins-like year and despite making a depleted Pro Bowl that remained in the continental United States, we can't support and argue that thought otherwise.

And that's alright... if not expected. On Halloween night in 2013, Atkins suffered a season-ending ACL tear. Slowly, with his physical rehabilitation complete, he began focusing harder on his mental confidence. At times the power wasn't there. There appeared to be trepidation and concern about the knee. That's expected. We thought... let's give him a year. During the offseason last year, he had to rehabilitate. This year... he can get stronger and work toward improvement, right?

Atkins, on the other hand, is heading toward two years past his Halloween, 2013 ACL surgery, a significant milestone doctors and trainers point to for how long a player returns to his prior form.

"I don’t know. I’m not a doctor," Atkins said after playing for the winning Irvin team in the Pro Bowl.

...

"I haven’t really thought about it," Atkins said. "I’m looking forward to having an offseason and chill. Football season is over. It’s a long season."

Oh. OK.

Good talk, Marshawn Geno.

+ Speaking of Marshawn.

+ According to the Sports Business JournalESPN and the NFL are lobbying for change in the College Football dates in 2015. The semifinals, which will be played in the Cotton and Orange bowl this year, will be played on Dec. 31. The NFL and ESPN wants those changed:

Sources say that senior network executives as high up as ESPN President John Skipper are pushing for the change as a way to get better television ratings, but the CFP is unwilling to make such a move because it is committed to the original plan to hold tripleheader bowl games, including the semifinals, on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

"We’ve started a new tradition and we don’t want to back away from it now," said Bill Hancock, the CFP’s executive director.

ESPN and the NFL are pushing for the CFP games to be played on Jan. 2, 2016, which will be a Saturday. CFP is committed to a Jan. 1 date for the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, saying the dates can't be changed.

In addition to that, the NFL is considering playoff expansions and one of those games would be played on a Monday, causing conflict with the national championship game played on the same day. This is also in opposition of the CFP, which picked the dated based on the lack of scheduled events.

"We picked Monday night because it was open and it was the best night for our game. We announced that in June 2012," CFP executive director Bill Hancock said. "We established that our game was going to be on Monday night for 12 years."