Times have changed – for the first time in years, the NFL game of the week will be played in Cincinnati. This week’s game against the Colts is probably the most important game the Bengals have played since Super Bowl XXIII. A win would announce that the new Bengals have arrived, ready to take on the league’s best teams and win. It would also keep their hopes of a division title alive, and – dare I say it? – give them a shot at home field advantage in the AFC. The Bengals would be gentle kittens no more. Curse the local network here in Denver for airing the pathetic Oakland-Washington matchup. I want to see this game!
|Team Stats (numbers in parentheses are NFL Ranking)|
|Rushing Offense||114.2 (15)||5 (t23)|
|Passing Offense||245.6 (7)||18 (1)|
|Rushing Defense||124.2 (24)||6 (t13)|
|Passing Defense||187.1 (10)||7 (t4)|
|29 takeaways (1)
9 giveaways (2)
+20 overall (1)
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team at Plus 20 in turnover ratio. That’s double the +10 margin enjoyed by the four teams tied for second place. It goes a long way toward explaining the Bengals’ 7-2 record, but being first in the league in passing touchdowns doesn’t hurt either. The popular opinion is that the Bengals have taken advantage of a soft schedule, and their home-field loss to the Steelers exposed them as a fraud. While there is some truth to that, don’t write this team off so quickly. Statistically, they are solid.
Average Opposing Defensive Ranking: 13.7
The fantasy prospects aren’t looking too good for the next few weeks, but playoff time is looking nice. Having four of the last seven games at home doesn’t hurt, either.
Jeremi Johnson (FB)
Carson Palmer has progressed nicely as a passer and he should be a top 3 QB pick for many years to come. If Cincinnati can find a way to keep their offensive core of Palmer, Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Rudi Johnson intact, they will have something resembling the Rams’ greatest show on turf. Although it may be Chris Perry who steps into the all-everything RB role. Beyond that list of main performers, there is not much fantasy value on this team. Chris Henry or Kevin Walter might be worth a look in very deep leagues, but the tight ends aren’t getting enough passes to be considered.
Next Week… Under the Microscope will be off for Thanksgiving. Enjoy the holiday, and look for another edition of the Microscope, or something else that warrants my attention, after the break.