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Chronicle: Bengals piecing it together, the AFC North, Eric Berry news and injury returns

How about a rare glimpse into our old sizzle of bacon on this Tuesday morning? We talk about where the Bengals are now, a couple of plays against the Texans and some injuries.

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Perhaps there's a disagreement.

That's fine. From commenters to experts that use twitter as their preferred medium (because no one will pay them can control the world wide Twitter), opinions on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton are wide-ranging... They usually draw on emotion from something that just happened. When Dalton submitted his performance against the Browns, it was that he's devolving, if not regressing. Then he has his performance against the New Orleans Saints, and opinions are "I thought the whole regression thing was overrated, anyway."

How about something simpler? Dalton sucked against the Cleveland Browns, and the Indianapolis Colts before that. Over the last two weeks, Dalton has played tremendously well. There's no devolution, evolution or a broadcasted long-term forecast on who Dalton is or was. He's been a liability, a villain, but also a hero and a benefit. There are just guys that stand in the middle that have good and bad days. Hell... that nearly defines all of us. When you sit down after an exhausting day at work, can you reflect honestly enough that your work was helpful or a hindrance? Yes. It's the same thing. Don't pretend that it's not.

Over the past two weeks, the Bengals have finally brought it together. Andy Dalton has completed 70.2 percent of his passes, scored four touchdowns against one interception for a combined passer rating of 93.7. He's playing well -- and you know that he is, largely because you're not hearing the echoes of "woe is me" from our fellow fans. Cincinnati has converted 20 of 33 third down opportunities and generated 325 yards rushing. Amazing.

On the other side of the ball, Cincinnati's defense contained Drew Brees, have only allowed 23 points in the combined games, and are averaging 69.5 yards rushing per game. Mike Nugent has slowly become one of the more reliable kickers in the league (have you seen some of the misses recently?) and if such an award existed, Kevin Huber would be a strong nomination for punter of the year.

Further impressing, is how the Bengals are doing the above mentioned on the road.

This team is playing the best that they've played all season... or at least resuming how they played over the first three games in September.


Everyone wants to take credit for it. Andy Dalton is a dutiful quarterback to say it was his fault. Wide receiver A.J. Green said... no, no. It was me. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who returned Andy Dalton's third quarter interception 60 yards for a touchdown, said "f*ck you, it was all me."

"We had an all-out blitz, I think we did a great job of disguising it and at the last second, everybody kind of walking to their positions," Joseph said. "I think it was a great call, mixing it up and giving them a different look and things like that. I just made a great break on the ball and finished it off with some great blocking and guys guided me to the end zone."

Bengals GIF Texans interception

Bengals GIF Texans interception

Curse you, Joseph. That's his third interception on Dalton, but the first during the regular season.


"I was at the right place at the right time," Maualuga said via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I was just playing the call that was called. I went to my hook drop, saw the ball thrown, and hey — it's there. If I would have kept my balance, I would have scored. I'm kind of upset about that, but everyone said if I lost a little weight, i would have been able to get up quicker to make my way to the end zone. I'll work on that."

There's 9:06 remaining in the second quarter. Cincinnati, elected to go for it on fourth and goal from the Texans one-yard line. They called a pass targeting A.J. Green's fade route toward the back left pylon. It went incomplete. With a turnover on downs, there was a consolation prize for not kicking a field goal.

Quarterback Ryan Mallett handed off to running back Alfred Blue. Maualuga quickly penetrated the A-gap, sending Blue sprawling down the line of scrimmage. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins generated enough of a push on Texans' guard, Brandon Brooks, causing Blue to trip up. Atkins shoved Brooks away and landed on top of Blue to force the safety.

Safety GIF Maualuga TExans

All-around great play by the Bengals.

Safety GIF Maualuga TExans


According to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Andre Smith has a tear in his tricep region. He's expected to undergo surgery next week to repair it, ending his season. This also ensures that Marshall Newhouse will start the remaining games this season.

What happens after that, is up for debate. Clint Boling was designated the emergency third-string tackle against the Texans, which nearly happened when Newhouse suffered an eye injury. Replacing Boling at left guard would be Mike Pollak. There's always the chance for Tanner Hawkinson, but we're more inclined to believe that Cincinnati is more comfortable with Boling.

However, with Tuesday being an off day, don't be surprised if the Bengals invite free agent offensive tackles for a workout... and perhaps a signature or two. However, I could also see a scenario that puts Smith on season-ending Injured Reserve and signing a player at a completely different position.


This is merely a reminder that starting inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict, and prodigy tight end Tyler Eifert, are "progressing" well enough to consider their eventual return. Burfict may attempt to practice on Wednesday to get an idea on where's he at. If he feels good afterwards, then there's a good shot that he plays this weekend in Tampa Bay. If not, then maybe next week.

As for Eifert, Lewis gave a promising perspective on him, which may include a late-season return. However, it seems like this will be a 50/50 scenario... maybe he will, maybe he won't. But that's been the case since he was eligible to come off short-term IR against the Browns.


After Baltimore's win over the New Orleans Saints, the AFC North is collectively 10-1-1. Baltimore (4-0), Cleveland (3-0) and Cincinnati (2-0-1) are undefeated. Pittsburgh is 1-1. Cincinnati will complete their series against the NFC South this weekend when the team heads to Tampa Bay, where the forecast calls for sun and 76 degrees.

"No division this late in the season has had every team at least two games over .500—until now, when the AFC North has all four teams at least three games over .500," writes Peter King with Sports Illustrated.


I have no words for Eric Berry, Kansas City's starting safety who a "mass" in his chest. The Chiefs' medical staff believes that he could have lymphoma. Rick Buckholder, the Chiefs trainer, was part of a presser in Kansas City that provided insight on how this unfolded.

"I'll take you back to Thursday night in Oakland at the end of the ball game.," said Buckholder. "Eric Berry came to me through Emmitt Thomas with some chest discomfort and so we evaluated him on the sideline, decided that he was okay to come inside right after the game."

After meeting with two traveling doctors and undergoing an MRI on Friday, "our physicians and radiology people at The University of Kansas Hospital read the MRI they discovered that he had a mass in his chest."

On Saturday we did further testing at The University of Kansas Hospital including CT scans, some blood work and a PET scan. At that point, Coach (Reid), myself and our team of physicians met with Eric (Berry) and at that point in time and at this point in time, we don't have a definitive diagnosis, but the leading consideration of what he has right now is lymphoma and so the next step in the process is to finish some testing. He's about 75% done with the testing.

Berry released a statement on Monday:

"I am truly thankful for all of the support from family, friends, coaches, teammates and the entire Chiefs kingdom. At first I was in shock with the diagnosis on Saturday and did not even want to miss a game, but I understand that right now I have to concentrate on a new opponent.  I have great confidence in the doctors and the plan they are going to put in place for me to win this fight. I believe that I am in God's hands and I have great peace in that."

Berry concluded his statement with "I will be back."

Check out Arrowhead Pride's stream here.