The halfway point for the Cincinnati Bengals has approached and to the surprise of Bengals fans the team sits atop the AFC North standings. The team goes into their bye week with a 7-2 record. The team seems to be clicking on all cylinders and their two losses against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers were both games that the Bengals clearly could have won. After their bye week, the game against the Indianapolis Colts could be the turning point of the season.
If they are able to pull off the upset of the Colts this would truly be a great thing not only for the Bengals but the city of Cincinnati.
A couple of week’s ago I wrote a column talking about 10 main storylines that would be of importance to the Bengals this season. The number one point on the list was Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer. Thanks to his offensive line he’s getting a lot more time in the pocket than he has been getting in previous years. Back on November 6th, against the Baltimore Ravens, he got sacked a couple of times early in the game.
However, he was able to correct this and lead the team to a 21-9 victory. The wide receivers are also helping out the team once Chad Johnson gets double teamed in a game.
Specifically, Chris Henry and T.J. Houshmandzadeh are improving the receiving corps and in the process are making Peter Warrick seem like an afterthought.
A main component of the team this year that I left off of the top 10 list is running back Chris Perry. The second year player out of Michigan has done a good job of supplementing Rudi Johnson in the backfield.
Being a surprise team in the NFL after spending so many years in the league’s basement, will bring a lot of media attention to your team. ESPN and CBS have both come to town to do features on Chad Johnson and his chart of “Who will cover 85 in 2005”.
However, coach Marvin Lewis recently took down the chart and replaced in with one of his own. Now Chad must answer a chart with such questions as “Did I make a teammate better today?”, “Did I study extra tape?”
Another key element of the Bengals this year has been their defense. Under the leadership of first year defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan, the defense is the 6th ranked defense in the AFC conference. They also lead the entire NFL in takeaways. Rookie Odell Thurman has been emerged a main player in the Bengals defense. He currently has four interceptions and one fumble this season.
As the season progresses for the Bengals this season, I hope that the broadcasting teams improve also so we can get some good coverage and the announcers can get the players’ names straight.