Bengals Tailgate Report: Week 13

Bengals Tailgate Report: Sweep the AFC North

12/2/09 in NFL   |   Aceraison   |   183 respect

The Bengals were getting a bit of criticism for picking up troubled running back Larry Johnson.  Critics didn’t understand why they would mess with the teams’ chemistry by bringing in a guy who was kicked off his former team for “actions detrimental to the team”.  The Bengals looked at it a different way.  They saw a guy who was once the best running back in the league who might just need a change of scenery.   With Cedric Benson (another troubled back at the time of his signing) out for the second straight week Johnson got a chance to show the league what he was made of and has a few other teams kicking themselves for not going after him.


The Bengals came into the second annual Battle of Ohio and dominated the game with a stout running game and some tough defense.  It was old fashion AFC South type football.  It wasn’t pretty but it worked.  Larry Johnson ran all over the Browns gaining 107 yards while Bernard Scott added another 87.  The defense had a field day on the Browns as well.  The held the Browns offense to a total of 169 yards and only gave up 4 of 14 third down attempts.  Though they were only able to sack Brady Quinn one time during the game they were able to put sufficient pressure on him causing him to make several bad throws.  At the end of the day the Bengals came out with what looked like an easy 16-7 win over Cleveland.  But in the big picture it was a huge win.


The Bengals have swept the AFC North division for the first time in team history.  Also with Pittsburgh losing later that evening it gave them a two game lead in the division with the tiebreaker.  If the season were to end today the Bengals would have a bye week as the number two seed in the AFC.


But the season doesn’t end today.  In fact there is quite a bit of football left before the postseason.  The immediate future for the Bengals doesn’t look so tough with the hapless Detroit Lions coming to town.  Detroit comes in with a 2-9 record.  This is actually an improvement for them as last year they became the first team in NFL history to finish a season 0-16.  They made an upgrade at quarterback over the offseason by taking Matthew Stafford as the overall number one pick in the draft but he is still a rookie quarterback making rookie mistakes.  His highlight of the season, however came in Week 11 in a come from behind win over Cleveland where he threw for 422 yards and 5 touchdowns. But those performances haven’t been there for the Lions much this year.  The defense for Detroit is ranked dead last in the league.  They are 19th against the run and 32nd against the pass.


This should be good for the Bengals who had a tough time getting a passing game going the past couple of weeks.  Carson Palmer hasn’t had a big day for quite some time and it appears that he is not on the same page with his receivers at this point.  Luckily the running game and the defense has carried most of the load and taken some pressure off of Carson and company but they are going to have to get sharp for the upcoming stretch.  Since Chris Henry broke his arm in Week 9 they have not been able to stretch the field, which tends leave the middle open for the other receivers.


I normally don’t like to look too far ahead in the schedule but as the season gets closer to the postseason you have to take a look to see what is coming.  This weeks game shouldn’t be one that Bengals fans should sweat – even though we thought that against Oakland – but I see it as a must win.  The Steelers and Ravens are two games back but they have much easier schedules than Cincinnati does.  After this game the Bengals go on the road to face two division leaders in Minnesota and San Diego.


Even though the Bengals running game didn’t miss a beat without him, Cedric Benson will be back this week.  Marvin Lewis is contemplating activating all four running backs for the game.  There won’t be a tired guy in the backfield at any point.  My hope is that Bob Bratkowski opens up the play book a little for the receivers so they can get back into a rhythm.    With Bob calling the plays and his tendency to get conservative (I can’t stand that!) it makes it hard to predict a final score but think the Bengals will win easily.  I’ll go with 27-10 Bengals.


Now for the exciting stuff.  This weeks’ game is the last home game before Christmas.  This will be our annual Christmas tailgate.  We’ll get out the old Charlie Brown Christmas tree and have some good rockin’ Christmas tunes going (O Come All Ye Faithfull by Twisted Sister is one of my favorites). I also have some friends from Michigan I expect to join us so we’ll have some Lions fans to pick on.  The weather is looking to be pretty cool with a high of 43 but there are no signs of rain.  So everybody get on your orange and black Christmas hats and cheer on the Bengals this week!!

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