A few weeks ago, Bill Cowher said on CBS that the Cincinnati Bengals would be a surprise team and make the playoffs in the 2009 season. Everyone at home knew he was an idiot for thinking that. I mean, come on, the Bengals? Ranked last in offense in 2008? How will they make the playoffs? Well, here's some reasons that might just change your opinion to at least think they have a legitimate chance.
1) Carson Palmer
No matter what anyone tells you, Carson Palmer is the most important thing for the Bengals going into the 2009 season. Props to Ryan Fitzpatrick, who finished the season strong and led the team to a 3 game winning streak, he's just not Carson Palmer. In 12 starts, Fitzpatrick had a 59.4 completion percentage, 1,905 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. Now, let's look at Palmer in 2007. 64.9 completion percentage, 4,131 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 20 interceptions. Led a team with a horrendous defense to a 7-9 record. Fitzpatrick's record was 4-7-1, with a 12th ranked defense in the league. 12th ranked defense you ask...?
Yeah, 12th best, seriously! Even without first round pick Keith Rivers for half the season. Even our arguably best defensive player, Chinedum Ndukwe missed a few games. But that ended up being a good thing with Ndukwe; it brought out a stud in Chris Crocker. Next year, our secondary looks great. Leon Hall, Crocker, Ndukwe, and Jonathan Joseph. Linebackers will include Rivers, Dhani Jones, and quite possibly Ray Maualuga in the draft out of USC. But if not, Brandon Johnson or Rashad Jeanty. Defensive line will be Robert Geathers, the almighty Domata Peko, Pat Sims, John Thornton, and Antwan Odom or Frostee Rucker. And remember, Mike Zimmer was just in his first year of D-Coordinator this past year, and he will only make them better.
3) Cedric Benson
I believe he will be an extremely high priority in Cincinnati to re-sign him. He ended the year fantastically including two 100 yard games against Kansas City and Cleveland. Oh yeah, in Cleveland, 171 yards. Yeah, it is the Browns. But he also did well against Washington. His track record is extremely inconsistent, but I believe he has found his home, and he does want to stay in Cincinnati, so as long as we're not stuck with fumble-prone Chris Perry at running back, we'll be solid in the backfield.
4) The Draft
We got the 6th pick, we're getting someone solid. I'm hoping for Andre Smith, tackle from Alabama, or Maualuga at linebacker. The Bengals do need an O-Lineman, but if we aren't left with Smith, I'm not sure if Oher, or any others are worth a 6th pick. Maybe trade down? I say wait til the second round and we can still be left with a solid tackle. If the Bengals aren't sold on Benson, Beanie Wells isn't out of the question either. The Bengals drafting hasn't been strong of recent years, but I believe this is our year.
5) Wide Receiver Situation
"TJ Houshmandzadeh is leaving Cincinnati; they'll be nothing." Yeah, think that. Housh may leave, no one knows yet. The Bengals are pushing hard to keep him. Housh does not want to be tagged, but it may end up that way. Cinci wrongly used their tag last year on Stacy Andrews, and now look at him. I believe we should tag Housh, work out a long-term deal over the season, then he's ours for life. I believe he will stay. About Chad Ocho Cinco; I love the guy, but I think it'd be best for Chad and the Bengals organization if he were traded. Get some young talent somewhere else, maybe a few draft picks. We've got Chris Henry, Andre Caldwell, and Jerome Simpson at receiver to replace Chad.
6) Momentum and Desire
3-0 to end the year after an 0-8 start. We've got the momentum going into the season. These guys want to win, more than anyone. It shows it. They could have lost those last few games to get a great draft spot, these guys wanna win.
Yeah, yeah, we've got 4 total games against Baltimore and Pittsburgh. That's probably 1-3, or 0-4. I'll say 1-3. But remember, we've got two against Cleveland. That makes 3-3. Denver, tough game, I'll say a tough loss, 3-4. Then Oakland.. they're getting better, but that's a victory for us. 4-4. Chiefs, 5-4. Chargers, tough one again, I'll say if not this one, we'll get Denver, so 6-4. Bears and Packers, I say we win one of them, 7-5. Detroit, 8-5, obviously. Minnesota, loss, 8-6. Then NY Jets, 9-6, I believe. And then, Houston, very tough game, very tough victory, 10-6. Wild Card.
Still doubt? Probably.
Change your overall opinion on them? Probably.
Just wait fellas. We will see. We will see.