Wednesday, August 5, 2009
2009 NFL PREVIEW- Cincinnati Bengals
2008 RECORD: 4-11-1
(3rd in AFC North)
HEAD COACH: Marvin Lewis
Key Additions: WR Laveranues Coles (FA/Jets) QB J.T. O' Sullivan (FA/49ers) DL Tank Johnson (FA/Cowboys) S Roy Williams (FA/Cowboys)
Key Losses: WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (FA/Seahawks) WR Glenn Holt (FA/Vikings) QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (FA/Bills) CB Marcus Brown (FA/Rams) RB Chris Perry (FA)
Offense: Quarterback Carson Palmer looks to remain healthy this season after a nightmare in '08 that saw him pass for 731 yards with four interceptions and just three touchdowns.
When healthy, Palmer has shown he is among the top rated QBs in the AFC.
The wide receiving corps no longer has T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the team's leading receiver a year ago, in the fold as he bolted for Seattle in the free agent market. That means Chad Johnson will be the main target once again for the Bengals.
Johnson (aka Ocho-Cinco) had just 53 catches last season and only four touchdowns, a far cry from his Pro-Bowl seasons earlier in this decade.
The Bengals have brought in free agent Laveranues Coles (70 catches for 850 yards and seven TDs) from the Jets to compliment Johnson. Chris Henry and Andre Caldwell are the backups.
The Tight End is Ben Utecht, who is an excellent blocker and also had 16 catches for Cincinnati in 2008. Reggie Kelly (31 catches) backs up.
The running back position sees Cedric Benson back after finishing strong in 2008. Benson ran for 747 yards and a pair of touchdowns after being picked up by the Bengals off the waiver wire.
Kenny Watson is the fullback and the backups are Brian Leonard and Gary Russell.
The Offensive Line has Kyle Cook (center), Andrew Whitworth and Bobbie Williams (guards) and Anthony Collins and Andre Smith at the tackle spots. Smith is the team's top draft pick from Alabama.
Defense: Cincinnati finished 12th in total defense in 2008 while allowing 120 yards rushing and 205 yards passing per game.
Pat Sims and Damata Peko are the defensive tackles and the ends are Robert Geathers and Antwan Odom. Michael Johnson and Tank Johnson are available to step in up front as well as Frostee Rucker and Jason Shirley.
Dhani Jones (middle linebacker), Rashad Jeanty (left LB) and Keith Rivers, the right linebacker are a solid group that helped to bolster the Bengals defense in 2008. Rookie Ray Maualuga (USC) will also be looked upon to contribute.
The secondary gets a boost with the addition of free agent safety Roy Williams from Dallas, who will start along with free safety Chris Crocker. The cornerbacks are Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall.
The Bengals were a respectable defense last year and to continue that trend, they will look to bring their totals in sacks (17 in '08) and interceptions (12) to a higher number.
OUTLOOK: The Bengals are a team that was considered one of the better ones in the AFC just three short years ago.
How times have changed.
And they had better change again in a positive direction or Head Coach Marvin Lewis may be shown the door.
Cincinnati ranked dead last in offense in 2008, managing just 204 points for the entire season. Their highest output was 23 points in a loss to the New York Giants. That's not gonna get it done.
With Palmer back in the fold and hopefully healthy again, the team has the quarterback they know can lead them to more production on offense.
This team has been snake bitten with injuries the past two seasons and if they can stay injury-free for a change, they will see improvement. But the AFC North has Pittsburgh and Baltimore looming large and the Bengals are still not quite there yet.
Look for the team to finish 6-10 in 2009 and continue to build for a better future.
Week 1- vs. Denver (Sept. 13)
Week 2- at Green Bay (Sept. 20)
Week 3- vs. Pittsburgh (Sept. 27)
Week 4- at Cleveland (Oct. 4)
Week 5- at Baltimore (Oct. 11)
Week 6- vs. Houston (Oct. 18)
Week 7- vs. Chicago (Oct. 25)
Week 8- BYE WEEK
Week 9- vs. Baltimore (Nov. 8)
Week 10- at Pittsburgh (Nov. 15)
Week 11- at Oakland (Nov. 22)
Week 12- vs. Cleveland (Nov. 29)
Week 13- vs. Detroit (Dec. 6)
Week 14- at Minnesota (Dec. 13)
Week 15- at San Diego (Dec. 20)
Week 16- vs. Kansas City (Dec. 27)
Week 17- at NY Jets (Jan. 3)