A year ago hopes were high in Cincinnati as the three-headed monster of Carson Palmer, Chad Ocho Cinco, and Terrell Owens made Bengals fans believe their team could do something special. After a dreadful 4-12 campaign where essentially nothing went right, the Bengals will start this season without any of those three players on the squad.
Owens and Ochocinco weren’t a big surprise, but the “retirement” of Carson Palmer is definitely one that caught most people off guard. It seems Palmer apparently was fed up with the Bengals poor decisions and mediocrity, and he wanted out. Mike Brown doesn’t want to let him go, since he does still have four years left on his contract with the Bengals. Now they are at an ugly standoff.
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Over the course of the last 15 or 20 years, the Bengals have been one of the worst franchises in all of sports. Bengals fans have come to expect a losing season, and it’s hard to imagine anything other than that with youngsters all over the field heading into 2011.
It appears Andy Dalton will be the starter from Day 1 for the Bengals. Dalton was Cincinnati’s second round NFL Draft pick this past April. He was great for TCU in his collegiate years, but ideally the team would have someone for him to sit behind for a couple years. Bruce Gradkowski, Dan Lefevour, and Jordan Palmer are the other quarterback options for Cincinnati.
A.J. Green was the Bengals top draft pick, and he has looked like a star in training camp. Jerome Simpson will be asked to step up and take over the second wide receiver spot. Jermaine Gresham has the ability to be one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the league. The Bengals decided to bring Cedric Benson back, but he might not fit well in the West Coast offense. Benson doesn’t have good hands out of the backfield, and he has been inconsistent in pass blocking.
The Cincinnati defense was middle-of-the-road last year, and the team better hope this unit improves in 2011 if they are going to have much success against the tough AFC North. The secondary was the strength of the team last year, but Johnathan Joseph and Roy Williams are no longer with the team. The Bengals went out and picked up Nate Clements at the cornerback spot, but it’s unclear who will start at the safety spot. Leon Hall is one of the best cornerbacks in the league, and I expect him to have another great season.
The front seven for the Bengals is actually pretty talented. Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, and Geno Atkins all showed flashes of brilliance at the end of last season. Domata Peko will likely have another solid season if he can stay healthy. The linebackers are the strength of this team. Rey Maualuga and Keith Rivers both continue to improve, and Manny Lawson was a solid pickup from the 49ers.
The Bengals special teams was pretty good in 2009, but tit were dreadful last season. Bernard Scott and Quan Cosby were mediocre in the return game, but the kick coverage teams were among the worst in the league. Kevin Huber must have a better season for the Bengals, and they need Mike Nugent to stay healthy. This unit must find a way to improve if the Bengals are going to be competitive.
2011 Cincinnati Bengals Schedule
The Bengals schedule is easy at the start of the season, but they’ll likely have a tough time capitalizing with the youngsters still learning the new West Coast offense. The Bengals schedule gets a lot more difficult in November when they host Pittsburgh and then travel to Baltimore in back-to-back weeks. Overall, the schedule isn’t one of the tougher ones you’ll find, but it isn’t ridiculously easy.
Cincinnati Bengals Gambling Odds and Super Bowl Futures
The oddsmakers know that the Bengals are in for a long season. WagerWeb lists the Bengals at +10,000 to win the Super Bowl. JustBet lists the Bengals at +2,500 to win the AFC North. JustBet also puts the Bengals at +7,500 to win the AFC. What about the team total for the Bengals this year? BetOnline has posted the ‘over/under’ at 5.5 wins.
2011-2012 Cincinnati Bengals Predictions
The Bengals are in for a long season. Gruden’s offense will likely be an upgrade for the team in the long run, but the short offseason didn’t help this young team at all. Dalton is bound to struggle in his first year in the NFL, and I don’t think Benson will be terribly productive either. The defense isn’t bad, but it’s not good enough to carry the team. When will this franchise ever find its way? I think the Bengals are destined to finish somewhere around 3-13 or 4-12 once again, so the ‘under’ is my prediction for NFL season win totals.
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