written by special guest 'Haus'
Well obviously I have to disagree with Log's assessment of the Bengals. It was mentioned that their offense was good last year and it didn't get them into the playoffs. Not really. First of all they choked twice in the last seconds of December games that would have sent them to the playoffs with a win in either game (Log’s pic of Holmes).
Last year the offense finished 11th overall, due to many circumstances. They lost two of their best O-lineman in commanding center, Rich Braham and LT Levi Jones for the majority of the year, causing two newbies to start for the first year in Andrew Whitworth and Eric Ghiaciuc. The problems were Whitworth was too slow on the edge and Ghiaciuc didn't know the offense well enough to command the line well at all. The coaching staff tried several different combinations of lineman all year long. To make matters worse, Carson didn't have an offseason coming off the unmentionable knee injury suffered the year before and was taking hits from holes left by the constantly shuffled line in front of him.
However, this year those two linemen have a year under their belt and Whitworth importantly will be moved back to his better guard position where he won't be beat around the corners. Carson wore down at the end of last year and only threw for 52% completion rate in December. He is hungrier than ever and is fully healthy with a full offseason of rest and practice. The offense will be in the top 3 of the league once again and that WILL put them into the playoffs. The off-field problems are finally over with (minus Chris Henry) and several of the troubled players have left the team. If Henry surprises the world and somehow stays out of the trouble (or more likely he just doesn’t get caught) he will only make the O more potent, but Carson can throw to anyone in the meantime.
Who knows if the Bengals will have a defense. However, look back at the Colts of years ago and yes, they had no defense, but that definitely did not put them in last place of their division (although Log definitely put them there to spite me and of course he felt bad for the Browns).
The line is experienced and appears to have a budding star in Robert Geathers at the end. On the other side of the D-line Justin Smith hopes to have another big year after being given the franschise tag (if for no other reason than to cash in after the season when he will likely be free agent).
The DB's look to be reinforced with a healthy Madieu Williams and Leon Hall looks to be making an immediate impact. If the young tandem of first rounders in Hall and Joseph live up to the hype, and Deltha O'Neal can regain his form of two years ago, the secondary will be a formidable foe. (and yes Log, Nddukwe does suck, that's why he's listed as 4th on the depth chart and his fighting for a special teams spot to make the team and isn't a factor, former Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson would be the SS)
Regardless, how far the Bengals go rests solely on the shoulders of the linebacking core. Ahmad Brooks was picked up out of the supplemental draft a year ago and most likely would have been a first round pick this past spring otherwise. He has the raw talent to become a very solid MLB (the team released Brian Simmons to let Ahmad play) but I'm not sure how his mental abilities will coincide. The Bengals will definitely miss Pollack and Thurman, but it's for the best IMO on Odell. I the think Ed Hartwell pick up from the Falcons will do jack-shit for the team and Landon Johnson and Rashaad Jeanty will be average at best. Hopefully the LB's will gel together and surprise Bengals fans, for how far the Bengals go in the playoffs is up to them.
Bottom Line, how good the offense is will matter. Carson will eat up the secondary of the Browns and Steelers leading to a 4-0 record against them and go 1-1 against the Ravens, who I am scared of with McGahee in their ranks. 11-5, 5-1 division. Tie for the best record with the Ravens. Browns 6-10, 1-5. Steelers 7-9, 2-4 So in translation for our Steelers fans out there… Allow me to summarize …Bengals? Offense Great. Defense not good. Playoffs.