NFL Preview: Cincinnati Bengals

Head Coach: Marvin Lewis
Offensive Coordinator: Bob Bratkowski
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Zimmer
Special Teams Coordinator: Darrin Simmons
President/CEO: Mike Brown

Offensive Starters (Projected)
QB: Carson Palmer
HB: Cedric Benson
FB: Fui Vakapuna
WR: Chad Ochocinco
WR: Terrell Owens
LT: Andrew Whitworth
LG: Nate Livings
C: Kyle Cook
RG: Bobbie Williams
RT: Dennis Roland
TE: Jermaine Gresham

Defensive Starters (Projected)
DE: Robert Geathers
DE: Antwan Odom
DT: Domata Peko
DT: Tank Johnson
LB: Rey Maualuga
LB: Keith Rivers
LB: Dhani Jones
CB: Leon Hall
CB: Johnathan Joseph
FS: Chris Crocker
SS: Roy Williams

Special Teams
K: Mike Nugent
P: Kevin Huber

Schedule:

@ New England
Baltimore
@ Carolina
@ Cleveland
Tampa Bay
BYE
@ Atlanta
Miami
Pittsburgh
@ Indianapolis
Buffalo
@ New York Jets
New Orleans
@ Pittsburgh
Cleveland
San Diego
@ Baltimore

Position Battles:

Obviously, all eyes are on the position of wide receiver in Cincinnati. According to the official Bengals website, the number two spot still belongs to Antonio Bryant, but let’s be honest, can anyone see T.O. taking a backseat to ANYONE? Even if he did, he’d complain so much that the coaches might play him just to shut him up! No, in all seriousness, the Bengals wouldn’t sign Owens simply to bench him, so it’s obvious where this will go. Of course, it will be interesting to see where Adam “Pacman” Jones will fit into the mix…

Rookies to Watch:

The only one to watch here is Jermaine Gresham. It will be interesting to see how he could be used in the Bengals offense, considering he can be used as a possession receiver. He will also make for a nice end-zone target for Palmer…the only question is, how will he be used when the Bengals decide to rush?

Season Expectations:

The Bengals have all the right pieces to have a season to remember. If Palmer can get good chemistry going with Owens, the Bengals could wind up with a prolific passing game that will be mentioned in the same sentence as New England or Indianapolis, or to a lesser extent, Dallas. Cedric Benson is also nothing to sneeze at either at the running back position. Also, the Bengals have one of the most underrated defenses in the NFL, and they seem to be getting better every season. If this trend continues, and everything clicks in the offensive category, the Bengals could be serious playoff contenders this year.

On the other hand, if Owens’ trend of destroying team chemistry continues, the Bengals could be looking at a mediocre season. I see two possibilities coming out of this:

One: Ochocinco and Owens will wind up in a friendly rivalry to outdo one another, and could wind up getting 1000-yard seasons in the process.

Two: One will wind up complaining about being upstaged by the other, and it will cause havoc among the team’s chemistry. (Refer to: Owens, Witten, Romo; Dallas.)

Of these two scenarios, who can say? Either way, I believe the talent will step up, and I can honestly say…the Bengals no longer look like the Bungles.

My Projected Record: 10-6

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