Two-a-Days: 2010 Cincinnati Bengals
TheSportsWatchers.com wants to get you in shape for the upcoming 2010 NFL season. And in the spirit of training camp season, we are doing two-a-days to get you in gear for each and every NFL team.
Do not be so quick to prejudge these Cincinnati Bengals. While they may have more characters on that team than an episode of the recently struggling Entourage sitcom, there is a lot of talent behind those characters. Sure, it is easy to dismiss Terrell Owens as washed up or Carson Palmer as having a dead arm, but when you really look at this team closely, the pieces seem to add up to something special in Cincinnati.
The Bengals were expected to be the Bungles in 2009, but instead they were by far the best team in the AFC North. Nothing against the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, the two perennial favorites in that division, but the Bengals handled them both on four occasions, and they swept the Cleveland Browns for good measure. However, as surprising as the Bengals 10-6 record and AFC North sweep were, it was the way they won that was most surprising. Carson Palmer barely broke the 3,000-yard mark, averaging just 193 yards per games on 29 pass attempts per game. Forgetting Palmer’s mundane efficiency of 83.6, the Bengal’s 466 total pass attempts were only the 27th most in the NFL. This from a team that was renown for its passing just a few years ago, and here they were treating their franchise quarterback like some rookie out of college. Thankfully, Cedric Benson came through with a season nobody knew he had in him. Benson’s 1,251 yards and six touchdowns gave the Bengals the rushing game they have missed since losing Rudi Johnson. Chad Johnson also helped out by averaging 14.5 yards per catch and scoring 9 touchdowns. Still, all of that seems for not when you flame out in the playoffs like the Bengals did, losing to a rookie quarterback in the opening round.
2010 Offseason Transactions
Because of the lack of proficiency in the passing game last season, the Bengals were hell bent on beefing up their wide receiving core. The Bengals let an underperforming Laveraneus Coles go and signed Antonio Bryant to a four-year deal. In the 2010 NFL Draft, the Bengals used their first-round pick on Jermaine Gresham to sure up their tight end spot for the next decade. And in two moves that can only be described as “really wanting to improve your wide receiving talent at any cost,” the Bengals brought in both Matt Jones and the ever-boisterous Terrell Owens. On defense, the Bengals re-upped safety Roy Williams, signed Pacman Jones and gave Tank Johnson a four-year contract.
2010 NFL Prediction
With Jones, Owens, Bryant, Tank, Benson, Pac Man and Ocho Cinco on their roster, the Bengals 2010 NFL season could quickly turn into the fall drama series of the ratings season. But barring that nuclear scenario, this team is loaded with the talent to compete. Defensively, we know already know what cornerbacks Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall can do, and if they use Roy Williams correctly, he can be a force against the run game. Not to mention, the Bengals have two of the best young linebackers in the NFL in Keith Rivers and Ray Maualuga at the outside linebacker positions, and having Dhani Jones in the middle isn’t bad either. Offensively, is where the changes need to come. The Bengals clearly are not going to give up on Benson just because they have some new toys, but you don’t sign Terrell Owens to become the 70’s Steelers. Clearly, the Bengals want to throw the ball downfield more, which tells me all I need to know about Carson Palmer’s arm.
This team could blow up like so many people are predicting, but I believe that’s just pie in the sky for the media. Quite frankly, Owens hasn’t been an issue in almost two years now, and Tank Johnson and Pac Man Jones have been out of the news for just as long, too. Thus, I expect this veteran and talent-laden team to live up to their billing and win the AFC North with a record of 12-4. I don’t see how this team doesn’t make a run the AFC Playoffs, and I am even willing to stick my neck out there and predict that the Bengals will reach the Super Bowl as the AFC representative.
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