Week 1 of the NFL season started off a bit rocky for the Cincinnati Bengals, though, they pulled out a win. The offensive line has a ton of questions and concerns, considering Andy Dalton was sacked seven times in the opener. The Bengals prevailed however and you can read the best recap of the game in the return of Josh Kirkendall here.
Andy Dalton is hitting his stride
Aside from the few who can’t seem to swallow their pride and admit when they are wrong, the Bengals fanbase is firmly planted in the pro-Dalton camp. For too long the debate centered around whether or not Dalton was the right guy to lead this team. That chapter should now officially be ended.
Last season Dalton emerged as a star. His stats were near the top of the NFL and until he was injured, he was legitimately in MVP consideration. His 8.42 yards per pass attempt was only second to Carson Palmer and the Arizona offense that led the league. His 106.2 quarterback rating only trailed Russell Wilson.
We wondered what Dalton would look like coming into the 2016 season. Is he still progressing or was the 2015 a perfect storm and the results this season would bring him back to former levels. Well, in New Jersey on Sunday, he answered. Even though he was constantly under pressure, he played well enough to lead his team to victory. The icing on the cake was the perfect passer rating he held when throwing to A.J. Green against one of the leagues best corners in Derrell Revis.
If you are one of those still clamoring for AJ McCarron, or highlighting the few poor throws from Dalton, then it is time to move on.
Can it get worse for the Browns?
If I was a betting man, I would not have put much faith in the RGIII experiment in Cleveland to amount to much of anything. This turns out to be true, but not in the typical way a Browns quarterback fails his team. In the first game of the season, Griffin was lost to an injury and placed on the Injured/Reserve. Sure, there is a possibility he could return this season, but even if he does, is there any faith he can do anything with this Cleveland squad?
The Browns have stockpiled draft picks for the next couple drafts. There may be a slight glimmer of hope on the horizon. Although the players may not want to admit it, they are in full rebuilding mode. The biggest question is if the ownership will allow the coaching staff the time it takes to change a culture. The Bengals allowed it to happen with Marvin Lewis, maybe Hue Jackson can be the guy to right the ship in Cleveland.
We aren’t the victims
As we prepare to face the Steelers, the inundation of memories from the playoff game flood in. Depending on what camp you are in, you’ll be told a different story. From the black and gold perspective, the Bengals are only out to injure the poor Steelers players and pick fights on the field.
As I watched the Steelers beat the Redskins last night I was reminded of how much of a punk team the Steelers really are. Sure, they are hard hitting and intimidating at times, but they continue to display the punk behavior they claim to loathe in other teams. Many times Mike Mitchell would stand over a player after a hit or tackle, or give an extra shove (or three) to a player trying to stand up after a play. None of it is illegal in the rules of the game, but it is that chippy crap that sets the negative tone for the game. For years the Bengals were on the receiving end of that extra crap and now that they dish out the same, the Steelers players and fans cry about it. I for one love it.
This weekend’s games
The Bengals playing in Pittsburgh is going to be the highlight of this weekends games. The media is going to fall all over themselves to create the themes that they want to push about this game. The Bengals will be punks, hot heads and out of control. The Steelers will be whatever each particular journalist decides to paint them as. The real action will be setting the tone on who controls the AFC North division this season.
Jameis Winston turned some heads last weekend with a four touchdown performance against the Falcons. This week he faces an Arizona Cardinals defense that failed to live up to their hype in the opener. The Patriots may have laid out the blueprint on how to beat the Cardinals, and as weird as this sounds, this may be a must win game for Arizona.
This is a big division matchup that should show whether the Packers can stop a good offense. The Jaguars racked up yards easily against Green Bay last weekend and the Vikings still have some weapons on offense who could cause headaches to the Packers defense, despite their quarterback uncertainty. On top of that, the Vikings defense will be looking to make Sunday night uncomfortable for Aaron Rodgers.