Thursday, September 10, 2009

2009 Bengals Preview (With Complete Sentences!)

2009 Bengals predictions and whatnot:

1. Carson Palmer will enjoy his second best season as a pro, trailing only 2005. I'm thinking something like 4,300 yards, with a 30-16 TD/INT ratio. I've been highly critical of the man since the '07 season (go Google "Carson Palmer and Brad Spieser"), but something seemed different about Palmer in his limited preseason duty this year. I'm usually right when gaging not only Palmer put the pulse of the Bengals in general, and I think he (and maybe the team he leads) are in for a rejuvenation year.

2. Bernard Scott will easily lead the team in YPC, as well as receptions by running backs. I say this because he is unquestionably the most talented back on the roster. Now, does that mean he'll be the featured back in any of the first eight or ten weeks? Probably not. Makes too much sense. Scott will likely to be relegated to kick return and third down duty. Which means I will throw things at my Samsung television every Sunday.

3. Chad Ochocinco is back. As in, all the way back...and then some. His finest season begins this weekend. Book it. This might be my easiest prediction yet. There was a certain tone with every offseason article about him that was just different than it had been in recent years. If you've watched his every move for eight seasons, and devoured every thing written about him, it's not terribly difficult to see his future; he really has a lousy poker face. I can see No. 85's cards, and he's sitting on a winning hand. Okay, that was gay, but I can promise you Ochocinco is in for a monster year.

4. Cris Henry catches ten touchdowns...and hopefully 50 receptions.

5. Rey Maualuga delivers several cheap shots and late late hits, drawing umpteen personal foul penalties in the process. And I might be okay with this-----the Bengals need some attitude on defense.

6. Gus Parrish gets brought back and makes the Pro Bowl as an alternate.

7. Keith Rivers = Landon Johnson 2.0. That wasn't a compliment, by the way, although he should be semi-decent (and a slight upgrade over the bums who have been at OLB in recent years). But seriously, I didn't hear a single word about Rivers this preseason, and I certainly didn't notice him flashing his alleged ability. Shouldn't he have been a bigger storyline this past month, especially when one considers how his season ended in '08?

8. Jordan Palmer is annoying. Maybe a little funny, but definitely annoying.

9. He's also a terrible quarterback.

10. I really have nothing else to add to the following statement: It's somewhat comforting to have John Joseph and Leon Hall as the CBs on the team I support.

11. Should Chinedum Ndukwe be starting over Roy Williams? My guess would be yes. But if it's NO -- and if Roy Williams is really the better safety -- then the Bengals will sport an even better defense I expected in '09 (am I nuts, or is Ndukwe pretty good?). They won't be a top six or eight unit (not enough quarterback chasers), but they might be able to finish around tenth, which, if Palmer can stay on the field for sixteen games -- and if the O-Line isn't a complete abortion -- that could make for a sneaky little 9-7 or 10-6 season.

This is the section where I give my prediction for the season...

Up until nine seconds ago I was going to go speak negatively about Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis, and how they're hamstringing the franchise. And they are. They absolutely continue to hamstring the franchise. But you know what? They were doing the same crap in '05, the same season the Bengals offense took the league by storm.

Will they do the same this year? No. The O-Line doesn't resemble its once-dominant self. But you'd be silly to argue that Palmer and Ochocinco don't have their old mojo working. And with a competent No. 2 (Vern Coles) and an unguardable No. 3 (Chris Henry), both Palmer and Ocho are surrounded with the necessary talent to pop off again.

And when I say "necessary talent," I'm including the RBs. And by "RBs," I mean Bernard Scott. If Marvin Lewis plays his best players, Scott isn't just a complimentary 3rd down guy/kick returner. In my perfect world, Scott is good for 210 carries and 60 receptions, while Benson can be the change-of-pace thumper/goal line back with maybe 150 carries and 25 receptions and ten total TDs. I hate to keep bringing it back to the O-Line, but I just don't think they're good enough to have Ced Benson as the primary ball-carrier. He needs holes to run through, and when it's improvisation time, he's screwed.

Now, Bernard Scott, there's a guy who can improvise. And if Coach Lewis allows Scott to display his unique skill set, the patchwork offensive line might not become the scapegoat. More importantly, Palmer might stay upright for 16 games if opposing defenses have to worry about Scott gashing them for fifteen-and eighteen-yard gains.

Okay, I know I've sort of rambled here -- and I'm not sure this post has even an ounce of flow to it -- but here comes the section where I kind of wrap things up before giving a final prediction...

I envision about six or seven nail-biters that could go either way (last year's Cardinals might be the template). A fast start is important, however unlikely (weeks two and three see the Packers and Steelers on the schedule, and I see the Packers and Steelers as being infinitely better squads). But I'm holding out hope (of course I am) and I really do have a different feeling going into '09 than I did in '07 or '08. And again, I'm generally spot-on with my preseason Bengals predictions. They're loaded at the skill positions, and I'm content with the overall talent level on D. That alone should make them competitive in most games (and, at the very least, interesting again)

It wouldn't be a shocker if they made the playoffs.

But they won't. The 2009 Bengals will finish with a 9-7 record (unless they don't).

That is all.


Extended fantasy coverage and an OSU-USC preview coming in the next 24-48 hours. I'm aware the NFL season starts tonight, but I gots to work. As for a quick '09 prediction regarding the relevant players in tonight's Steelers-Titans contest, here goes:

a. Chris Johnson will continue to be one of the most exciting players in the league (and improve upon last year's numbers), while LenDale White will continue to be much better (and more talented) than Chris Wesseling gives him credit for.

b. Kerry Collins will be a disaster (and the Titans will drop off dramatically).

c. If the Steelers throw the old ball around more (like they should), Roethlisberger becomes a top 8-10 QB, while Santonio Holmes moves into the Roddy White/Ochocinco/Dwayne Bowe mix of WRs.

d. Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall are the names of professional athletes.

Go Football!

Yeah Sports!

-Brad Spieser (