LONDON - The Bengals’ international debut Sunday (9:30 a.m.-Cincinnati’s FOX 19) at Wembley Stadium turns out to be a cozy affair against the team from the nation’s capital coached by a former Marvin Lewis assistant that looks a lot like themselves. The first international Bengals.com Media Roundtable also takes a bow.
Cincinnati has always had a passion for the Bengals, but the team is seeing first-hand this week how many international supporters are in their corner. Andrew Turnbull, a fan in the UK, created a "draft" to pick a team in 2012 after getting interested in the NFL via the Rich Eisen Podcast. He researched every team and whittled it down to 10 teams based on the traits he liked best.
CINCINNATI -- Vincent Rey realized Karlos Dansby was a different cat when they went out to dinner at Ruth's Chris Steak House. Instead of ordering one of the famous steaks, Dansby handed the waiter some plastic containers of food and asked him to heat them up.
London and Cincinnati have some things in common. London has the Tower of London, built by William The Conqueror in 1078 partly as a place to coax confessions via torture. Cincinnati has the Bengals, who tortured their fans for 12 years between 1991 and 2002.
Both teams struggled to finish off drives into the red zone this season. Whoever wins the red zone differential will likely end up enjoying the long flight back from London. This means an eye on Tyler Eifert taking the next step in his return from injury. He was employed for 15 total snaps against Cleveland - all in red-zone and third-down situations - and they’ll probably need him to make a play for a touchdown in this one.
AFC North Bytes
The casual brilliance the Pittsburgh Steelers flashed with remarkable ease over the first month of the season -- well, save for three regrettable hours in Philadelphia -- has faded quickly. It tends to happen when the training room looks just as crowded as the locker room.
Defense has always been one of the strengths for the Baltimore Ravens. They won Super Bowl XXXV completely on defense. But lately, the defense hasn’t been as dominant. To have a stout defense, it starts up front. It starts with with the pass rushers. When Rex Ryan was the defensive coordinator, the defense called themselves “organized chaos” because you never knew who was going to be blitzing on any given play.
CINCINNATI -- FC Cincinnati already has left an impression on Major League Soccer -- enough so that its commissioner scheduled a visit to check out in person what could be one of the league’s next potential expansion markets.
Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez had his jailhouse phone calls hacked ahead of his first murder trial, and prosecutors and his current defense team say they were never told, according to a news report Friday.
The Jacksonville Jaguars fired offensive coordinator Greg Olson on Saturday after the AFC South cellar-dwellers were downed 36-22 by the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and ESPN.com's Dan Graziano.
So far, the Arizona Cardinals offense is nowhere near the dynamic, big-play outfit it was a year ago. The defense, though, might be better. Arizona has not allowed a touchdown in its last two games — a 28-3 victory over the New York Jets and that strange 6-6 overtime tie with the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night. Actually, it is nine consecutive quarters if you count the 15-minute overtime period.
Is this the week the Patriots fall again? Been receiving tweets -- and catching flak from colleagues -- about every team at the top of the Power Rankings losing the following week. Yet, if that's true, Tom Brady and Co. would have to falter against a Bills group potentially devoid of its best player. Last year, I predicted Rex Ryan's defense would give New England fits in Buffalo. Yeah, and Touchdown Tommy went off. Given that the Bills have a chance to sweep the Pats for the first time in forever, this matchup is one of the best in Week 8. Eagles at Cowboys is no bargain brand, either. Neither is Chargers at Broncos, for that matter.