First place. Oh so sweet.

I have two tests and a paper to finish this week, but I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to talk about the new team alone in first place in the AFC North. That’s right…it’s the Cincinnati Bengals.
Am I surprised? I’d like to say no, but I am. I wouldn’t have been shocked to see this team at 2-3 or 3-2 after these last five games. I would have said they would beat the Broncos and the Browns. The other games were obviously going to be difficult. But, instead, they are a fluke play away from a perfect mark and on top of the North with a perfect division record. It’s a beautiful thing.

Andre Caldwell? More like Andre CLUTCHwell. This is such a good picture.

Andre Caldwell? More like Andre CLUTCHwell. This is such a good picture.

Even with the WhoDeys in first place, I can’t say I don’t still have some worries. Granted, I immediately texted my brother after the game, saying simply: “The Bengals are the best team in football history.” But, in all reality, they are so mistake-prone it’s almost maddening. But, as it says in the locker room somewhere, “Winners makes believers of us all.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t excuse things like…
– The need to hold your breath on every single field goal. No one should know the name Brad St. Louis, but so many do. If you’re a long snapper and I know your name, you shouldn’t be on the roster.
– Even if the snaps are bad, Shayne Graham needs to do his job. If Huber gets it down in time, he needs to get it through the uprights.
– When you can move the ball down the field effectively, you need to finish it off. Don’t settle for field goals. Especially after seeing how that’s turned out so far this season.
– The offense can move with astounding ease if it only has less than two minutes to work with. Why doesn’t that translate to the rest of the game?

For as many mistakes as they make, there are a lot of pros about this team, too.
– Defense in general. Mike Zimmer has done something special with this unit, and they did something special for him with that win on Sunday. Paul Daugherty wrote a great article about what the team did for him. You can’t imagine being in his place unless you know first-hand, but it was awesome to see them embracing him and hearing him address the team in the locker room.
– Leon Hall, in particular. How many people still remember that he tipped the ball that Stokeley caught? Because the only catches I remember him giving up recently are…..oh wait. None. Braylon Edwards and Derrick Mason combined for as many catches as I did the past two weeks against Leon.

Shut. Down. Corner.

Shut. Down. Corner.

– Andre Caldwell. How about those two TD catches for the first two of your NFL career? Not half bad. My thoughts are summed up under the picture above.
– The receiving corps in general. Chris Henry is finally returning to form after a quad injury, Caldwell is looking like a TJ Houshmandzadeh of the future, Ochocinco is back and doing what he does best, and (even though he’s a running back) the screen pass to Brian Leonard has become effective and dangerous.
– Cedric Benson. The NFL’s leading rusher as of right now. It definitely says something about him (and the O-line) that he broke that 40-game streak. The Ravens hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since 2006. Pretty big to break that against one of the premiere defensive units in the league with his 100-yard game.
– Carson Palmer. He may not be the same QB we saw when the Bengals had one of the most dangerous offensive attacks in the league, but he gets the job done. His pocket presence is fantastic, he’s (usually) smart with the ball, and he finds a way to win games.
– The punt team. Kevin Huber is shining kicking the ball and Quan Cosby is fifth in the league in punt return yardage. Even if the field goal unit sucks, these guys decide field position, and field position is HUGE.
– The TEAM. This squad has chemistry. They have camaraderie. They are fun to watch. Are they playing late into January? I don’t know yet. I think they can. They win close games, and knowing how to do that is key in this league. They look unflappable. Especially after falling behind on the road to what was supposed to be one of the best teams in the AFC, and the league overall. They didn’t lose their poise, and the Ravens unraveled.

All in all, it’s still first place in the division. It’s still one of the best records in the league. It’s people taking the Bengals seriously. It’s people noticing the Bengals. It’s legit. As Mo Egger said, the Bengals are 4-1, the Bearcats are 5-0, and the best high school football in the region. Cincinnati is Football Town USA.

So, to the rest of the NFL…

...weve got fun and games.

...we've got fun and games.



~ by nchaney3 on October 12, 2009.

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