Friday, January 16, 2009

I Think I Like The Bengals Again

This might com as a bit of a shocker, but I went to (an Internet website) for the first time in four months yesterday. This is because I'm once again curious about the franchise I used to obsess over. I'm not exactly sure how this happened, but it happened.

Regardless, I think it means I still care, which sucks, but that's out of my control.

Here's the thing: Ordinarily I'd write off the Bengals' late-season success as nothing but opposing teams giving decidedly less than maximum effort. Which still might actually be true (and probably is), but the Bengals' D showed spunk, and I can't believe I'm saying this, playmaking ability. Sure, they might be sub-par in several areas (save for the defensive backfield, a true strength) but with the addition of a legitimate edge rusher, they could actually be an above average unit.

Which is all we're asking for.

Because the offense is still the reason the Bengals will win games in 2009.

I routinely crushed Carson Palmer these past two years, but you know what? He's about 80 billion times better than Ryan Fitzpatrick (I guess we should've expected that). So, assuming his throwing arm is okay (yikes!), a big upgrade is expected at the QB position.

Running game, offensive line? The draft and free agency will almost certainly fill some holes and stabilize what proved to be the team's biggest weak spots in 2008.

Receivers? I'm expecting big things from Chad Ocho Cinco next year. Let's not forget: He's a great player, not a good one. He's only two years removed from leading his conference in receiving yards four consecutive years, an NFL record (no player has even led for three straight years). Plus he's healthy. Plus he remains obsessed with his place in history. Sure, Houshmandzadeh is unlikely to return, but they should be fine with (hopefully) a police-blotter-free offseason of Chris Henry and the (keepinf fingers crossed) improvement of Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson, 2008's underwhelming rookies.

Call me crazy, but I see the Bengals returning to respectability in '09.

I only see one problem with this.

Mike Brown is still here-----as is Marvin Lewis. Which makes perfect sense, especially considering the recent firings of Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden and (to a lesser extent) Eric Mangini.

So, disregard all optimism.

Speaking of optimism (call me Mr. Segue), the Brian Vickers System continues to provide hope to those of us feeling the affects of the economy.

Before I move on to Friday's picks, I want to remind you that I'll be posting Saturday's picks well before the games tip off at noon. We'll likely take between 15 and 25 games, and since there's very little chance we won't have a successful day, we're giving you extra time to absorb our information and place the telephone call that will undoubtedly ruin your bookie's day.

Friday's picks...


76ers (+3)
vs. Spurs

Thunder (+4) vs. Pistons

Grizzly Bears (+4.5) vs. Jazzercize

Hornets (+2.5) at Cavs

Magic (+4.5) at Lakers

Warriors (+1) vs. Hawks

Yesterday: 6-4
Overall: 222-184-11

-Brad Spieser (