Hey everyone! I am looking forward to our critical matchup next Sunday. Feel free to leave any questions about the Bengals below (most of my writeup here is copied from an old fanpost).
This season has been absolutely wild for the Bengals, and has taken a toll on us Bengals fans. We're currently 9-5 and have a good shot at being the #2 or #3 seed in the AFC as well as a good shot at being out of the playoffs entirely.
Here are a few quick points about our season:
-We've lost 13 players to IR/IR-recall/PUP this year. 8 of those are key contributors, including the consensus best defensive tackle in the NFL (pre-injury, obviously), Geno Atkins, and one of the top corners in the league for a while now and by far our top corner, Leon Hall. Also, starting LG Clint Boling suffered a season-ending injury, and Pro Bowl-caliber punter Kevin Huber as well. Other important players have been out for extended periods, the most notable current one being CB Terence Newman.
-We have perhaps the most polarizing QB in the league Andy Dalton. Bengals fans either like him or don't like him. On CJ, it's been extremely divisive. Of course all Bengals fans would prefer to see him play on an elite level, but the difference is that they either accept his limitations as a non-elite QB or they don't. I happen to fall in the former category. Dalton is who he is, and there isn't a better option. He'll be our starting QB next year as well and could very well be extended this offseason (possibly on the cheap) whether any of us likes it or not. In terms of comparisons, I view Dalton as Jay Cutler with a weaker arm and better intangibles. They produce eerily similar stat lines and are both maddeningly inconsistent. Take one look at their game logs over the years and you'll see while their overall stats are average to above-average (QB rating in the mid to high 80's, etc.), they rarely play like it on a game-by-game basis. They'll mostly have games with a QB rating either in the 100's or in the 50's-60's, which for better or for worse separates them from other average QB's such as Chad Pennington. For the 2013 season, Dalton's projected stat line (which will likely play out) is 4170 yards, 61.5 comp%, 7.13 ypa, 31 passing TD, 18 INT, 5 fumbles, 87.6 passer rating. I.e., lots of yards, TD's, and turnovers. That screams "Jay Cutler" to me.
-Our defense, which has been ranked in the top-7 for 4 of the past 5 years (currently #6 for 2013), is chock-full of undrafted young guys, aging veterans who were signed off the street, and former draft busts acquired via trade at a very low price. We also have defensive linemen from Angola and Estonia. The defense has been horrendous in tackling and pass-rushing recently, though.
-The Bengals were pretty well-hyped heading into this year, with CBS Sports and SI senior NFL writers both picking the Bengals to go to the SB, and being featured on Hard Knocks.
Here's a look at our game results this year so far:
Week 1: Bengals own a double-digit lead in the second half, but blow it due to multiple turnovers deep in Bears territory and multiple bonehead personal fouls, lose 24-21 on the road
Week 2: Bengals rookies Bernard and Eifert run wild, Bengals force a few turnovers deep in their own territory as they win 20-10 over the Steelers
Week 3: Bengals become the first team in NFL history to be up by 14+ and be down by 16+ in the same game and still win, over the Rodgers-led Packers. There were 8 turnovers in the game. The game-winning score was a long fumble return when the Packers were just trying to burn some clock and tack on another score (here's the wild radio call: Newman Fumble Return TD ). Final score: 34-30.
Week 5: Bengals win 13-6 over the Patriots in a very close physical game, in which an absolute MONSOON occurred at exactly the right time when the Patriots were trying to tie it up with 2 minutes left. You pretty much cannot see the field when rewatching game film.
Worse now pic.twitter.com/UqjZweNuQs— Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard) October 6, 2013
Weeks 6-7: Bengals win by the exact same score over the Bills and Lions, 27-24, both on the road, both on walk-off field goals. The first one came in OT, the second one was an epic 54-yarder that was barely good as time expired in regulation. Thad Lewis torched the Bengals in the first one, while Calvin Johnson had the NFL's catch of the year in the second one (after Leon Hall suffered a season-ending injury earlier in the game):
Detroit Lions (@DetroitLionsNFL) October 20, 2013
Week 8: If not for a few wide-open overthrows/drops and the offense letting up on the gas pedal by the middle of the third quarter, the Bengals would have beaten the Jets by an approximate score of 77-9 (final score: 49-9)
Weeks 9-10: Bengals lose in OT in two consecutive games. The first one came on a walk-off safety by the Dolphins, the third time in NFL history a game has ended on a safety. Rookie Giovani Bernard had the NFL's run of the year in that game. The game had terrible refereeing, including a phantom hold wiping out a long Bengals TD and a blatant, textbook unnecessary roughness which would have put the Bengals in position for a game-sealing FG near the end of regulation. To top it all, Geno Atkins was lost for the year. The second one came after the Bengals had a crazy Hail Mary TD pass in a blustering wind as time expired in regulation, the NFL's luckiest play of the year.
Giovani Bernard Unreal Run On Thursday Night Football
Andy Dalton Hail Mary TD vs Ravens 11/10/13
Week 11: The Bengals score a franchise-record 31 points in the second quarter despite just 108 yards of offense, to beat the Browns. In that quarter, the Bengals set up those points via a beast-mode interception, two blocked punts, a fumble return, and a punt return.
Week 13: The Bengals running game goes off and the defense forces timely turnovers as they win at the Chargers, 17-10.
Week 15: The Bengals blow out the Colts. Like the Dolphins game, it was horribly officiated, but in favor of the Bengals, who were gifted 7 points by the refs on a play that should not have been overturned. The injury to CB Terence Newman in this game may have been the straw that broke the camel's back for the Bengals defense, as they have struggled lately after still doing well even with many other critical defensive injuries before Newman's.
Week 16: Bengals lose to the Steelers 30-20...the Bengals did not deserve to win, but the Steelers were gifted 7 points when LB Terence Garvin hit punter Kevin Huber illegally on a punt return and it was not called. It was clearly a textbook illegal hit (driving his helmet under Huber's face mask, not to mention Huber is a punter and is by rule considered defenseless at all times), and likely a malicious cheap shot as well. The hit fractured both Huber's jaw and vertebrae in his neck (not to mention a bloodied mouth and certainly the loss of teeth) and he was motionless on the field for a bit, but was able to walk off the field by himself with Garvin dancing in the endzone all the while. A few other Bengals were injured in this game. There were other poor calls in this game in favor of the Steelers, but the Bengals have themselves primarily to blame.
Again, remember that the Bengals have a very realistic shot at both the AFC #2 seed and also at being left out of the playoffs entirely. So that's pretty much the half of it for Bengals fans. Don't be surprised if Sunday's game fits right in.