Know Thy Enemy: Cincinnati Bengals

CINCINNATI - JANUARY 8: Quarterback Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals is hit in the knee by Kimo von Oelhoffen #67 of the Pittsburgh Steelers on the first drive of the AFC Wild Card Playoff Game at Paul Brown Stadium on January 8, 2006 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Last season, the Cincinnati Bengals finally got it.   They stopped being the Bungles and started copying the Pittsburgh Steelers.   And it worked.  With a strong pounding running game and a solid athletic defense, Cincinnati unexpectedly won the AFC North.  Even though they disgraced themselves in the playoffs, many still thought they had a legitimate shot at making noise in 2010.

Naturally, the fools running the Bengals learned absolutely nothing from last season’s success.  Instead of continuing to follow the Steelers model and hoping to taste just a bit of our success, they went in the exact opposite direction.  Instead of concentrating on the running game, they went out and brought in overrated prima donna Terrell Owens.  Instead of improving team chemistry by eliminating players of low moral character, they brought in Adam “Pacman” Jones.   And where has this left the team which last year’s AFC North champions?

2-5 and hopelessly out of playoff contention.  Couldn’t happen to a more deserving franchise and more obnoxious fan base.

STEELERS DEFENSE vs. BENGALS OFFENSE

Watching Cincy last year was like looking through a magic mirror at the 2006 Steelers.  They ran the ball effectively with powerful straight-ahead runner Cedric Benson.   Benson is having another good season, totaling almost 550 yards while averaging 3.8 yards per carry.  Complementing him is Bernard Scott, an elusive speedy back who has only 20 carries but is averaging an impressive 5.7 yards per.

Unfortunately, the running game hasn’t been the focus of their offense.  Carson Palmer is averaging 40 passes per game through the first 7 games of the year.   Has the clone of Bruce Arians’ been hired by the Bungles?   Nope.  This team simply has whiny crybabies like T.O. and Chad Ochocinco on the roster so can you imagine if they only threw 15-20 times a game?

Rookies Jordan Shipley, who has Spider-man sticky hands, and 6’6 rookie TE Jermaine Gresham are actually the best recievers on the team but they don’t get the looks or touches because Tweetledum and Tweetledumber have to be appeased.

Hijacking of the team by overhyped media whore wide receivers has hastened the downfall of the always overrated Carson Palmer.  Some may remember 3-4 years ago when “NFL experts” would routinely rank Palmer as a top QB, ahead of far more deserving players such as our own Ben Roethlisberger.  Thankfully, that is no longer the case.  Palmer has been dreadful this year, completing less than 60% of his passes with a 12/7 TD-to-INT ratio.

Memo to Carson and delusional Bungles fans:  You are not better than Ben, you have never been better than Ben, and you will never ever win anything because you’re not good enough.

Now on the Steelers side of the ball, we have some interesting match-ups.  If a sudden bout of sanity overtakes the Bengals soon-to-be-fired coaching staff and they try running the ball, we’ll get to see how our revamped run defense looks.  Last week wasn’t a real good test since New Orleans was down to their practice squad running back.  Cincy ran all over the Steelers last year without Aaron Smith.

Brett Keisel has been practicing this week so let’s hope he’s finally healthy enough to return.  If he does, that allows the Steelers to rotate Ziggy Hood and Nick Eason on the other side.  I was positive about Ziggy in my game recap but did note Eason played a far better game.  With the Diesel healthy, the Steelers can use Eason in the base defense since he plays the run extremely well and just sub Ziggy in obvious passing downs since that’s the only time he’s consistently effective.

If the Bengals do choose to throw, let’s hope Troy Polamalu plays better than he did last week.  After holding it together through three quarters, the secondary totally fell apart in the fourth last week.  Of course, Palmer is no Drew Brees and none of the Bengals’ receivers are in the same class as those of the Saints’.

STEELERS OFFENSE vs. BENGALS DEFENSE

Adam “Don’t Call Me Pacman” Jones was lost for the season returning an INT a few weeks back.  So the Bungles need to find somebody else to pick passes, run back kicks, and beat up strippers.  They were already a middle-of-the-pack secondary with him, averaging about 221 yards passing allowed/game, so we’ll see how they do without him.

The Bengals have a nice young linebacking corp led by world traveler Dhani Jones.  Rey Maualuga and Hines Ward victim Keith Rivers round out a defense which ranks ninth from the bottom against the run.   They also don’t generate much pressure, totaling a pitiful six sacks on the season.

What can I say about the Steelers’ offense?  It’s a frustrating experience watching these guys because there is immense talent at every position (yes, even the O-line) yet they seem to be getting worse by the week.  Last week was a calamity of errors as it was later revealed the team was unprepared to handle the crowd noise at the SuperDome.  This offensive confusion no doubt led to inexcusable mental errors such as receivers not going to hot routes on blitz audibles or Trai Essex blocking the wrong man on the goal line failure.

Considering Art Rooney was ready to run Arians out of town after last year’s fiasco, I have to think no amount of begging by Ben and/or Tomlin will save him if things don’t start improving.  This team has the option of effectively attacking through the ground or air.  Not many teams in the NFL can say that.  Pass to set up the run, run to set up the pass…   Either way, they have the talent to pull it off.   Let’s hope everybody is on the same page this week.

Although the Bengals are a total non-factor this season, divisional games are always tough.  The Steelers must take care of AFC North business if they want to go places.  November is the most crucial month of the season.  Good teams go 3-1 or 4-0 to separate themselves from the pack while bad teams falter and need a late surge and a lot of help to make a run at the postseason.  Let’s not repeat the folly of last season.

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  • Todd

    This should be an easy win for the Steelers, although they do have a way of making games like this one a lot closer than they should be. Let’s just hope our secondary performs better…I just couldn’t believe last week that there were Saints receivers WIDE open in a 7-man zone. How is that even possible?

    Anyway, I have to play Ocho on my fantasy team this week, so hopefully he’ll get at least a few completions. :/ I also agree with you that our offense would be a lot more effective with a stronger (not to mention smarter) leader for our OC.

    • http://nicepickcowher.com chris

      Dude, the Steelers never make anything easy. Even the Browns game wasn’t comfortable until well into the third quarter.

      Oh, our secondary letting guys romp wide open with 7 guys in coverage is very possible when you have players (frequently Troy) way out of position or corners (Gay, B-Mac) who give 7-8 yard cushions.

      Arians is only here because Ben begged to keep him and Tomlin hates firing guys (he didn’t even want to dump our inept o-line coach). Art Rooney wanted him gone and made that pretty obvious. I expect unless we make the playoffs and win a game or two, he’s gonna get canned.