The Cincinnati Bengals travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins on Thursday night football. The Bengals ride in on a wave of four consecutive victories while the Fins have lost four in a row. The atmosphere is one of urgency in Miami and another loss could lead to panic.
Meanwhile, in Cincy the Bengals are red hot. Andy Dalton has been lights out in the first half of the season. Bengals receivers are developing into a serious force led by All-Pro A.J. Green.
While this does look like a potential “trap game” for the Bengals, they are heavily favored. Another impressive win will go a long way to solidify a play-off appearance.
The NFL regular season has reached the midway point and not without some surprises. Who would have thought that the Kansas City Chiefs would be the league’s lone undefeated team at 8-0? Equally as surprising, the Steelers, Texans, and Falcons are near the bottom of the NFL pile after being widely predicted to make a run at their respective division titles. I guess that’s why they play the games! A team has never won the Super Bowl without showing up and playing the games. Below are my top five power rankings for Week 9. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
1. Kansas City Chiefs 8-0
The Chiefs struggled late in the game against the Browns, but ultimately did what good teams do – they win ugly. In every championship season, winning teams will gut out some ugly wins and barely escape with the victory. But in the NFL a win is a win regardless of what it looks like.
2. Denver Broncos 7-1
Peyton Manning has finally shown signs of being human lately. He is also beginning to show his age. In the last few weeks his health has been the subject of much debate. No one can argue his Hall of Fame career or unbelievable season to date, but the retirement party is clearly on the horizon for Peyton. Meanwhile, the return of Von Miller has certainly strengthened the defense for their second half run.
3. Seattle Seahawks 7-1
Speaking of winning ugly… The Seahawks had a gut check week much like the Chiefs did. They went into St. Louis to play a bad team who recently lost their starting quarterback. The Rams reached out to Brett Favre last week but he turned down the opportunity to return for what would have truly been a spectacle. Things must be bad when you start calling senior citizen centers in search of a starting QB. Everyone expected a blowout in Edward Jones Stadium. Everyone but the Rams that is.
4. New Orleans Saints 6-1
The Saints are quietly putting up a great season. They have battled late in a couple of games this season, but held on to get the win. Drew Brees continues to just be a great quarterback and leader. The Saints may be the team that no one wants to face in the play-offs especially in the Super Dome.
5. 3 way Tie: Indianapolis 5-2, Cincinnati 6-2, and San Francisco 6-2
I don’t often list teams in a tie, in particular, a three-way tie. However, a really good case could be made for each of these teams to be at number 5. Andrew Luck has successfully lifted his team to the top shelf after replacing perhaps the greatest NFL quarterback of all time. Meanwhile, the Bengals are red hot and look prepared to run away with their division. If their offense begins to run smoothly with all of the parts in place the rest of the league had better look out. And we can certainly make a case for the Niners whose only losses have come to two teams also in the top 5: Indy and Seattle. The Niners are looking dangerously tough recently and we had better plan to see them playing deep into the play-offs.
In a league that is becoming increasingly more “pass first,” top level NFL receivers are at a premium. COwboys receiver, Dez Bryant recently opened a can of worms when he claimed in a radio interview that he was better than Calvin Johnson. Seriously? Is there a receiver on planet earth that is better than Megatron? On paper, probably not. But touchdowns are caught between the lines and not on paper.
With that in mind, an objective review of the current stats through 7 weeks reveal a number of receivers who could claim the title of “Receiver of the Year…So Far.”
In no particular order, here are my top five “Receiver of the Year” candidates after 7 weeks:
Wes Welker – leads the league with touchdown catches at 8
A.J. Green – near the top in all major statistical categories
Calvin Johnson – Look up “Beast” in the dictionary and you will find Johnson’s photo
Dez Bryant – Nudges out Julio Jones by a whisker
Demaryius Thomas – Ranks high in most stat categories
- Dez Bryant Comparisons to Calvin Johnson Not Unwarranted (bleacherreport.com)
- Nate Burleson scoffs when Dez Bryant compares himself to Megatron (profootballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Rankings and grades: Jason Hatcher is NFL’s top-ranked DT; Sean Lee No. 2 among inside linebackers (cowboysblog.dallasnews.com)
Here are my Week 8 NFL power rankings (top five). Let me know if you agree or disagree!
1. Kansas City Chiefs – The defense has been outstanding so far. For all of my KC Chiefs fans friends (and you know who you are) congratulations!
2. Seattle Seahawks – Percy Harvin is looking to make his return to an already loaded Seahawk team. Look out NFC1
3. Denver Broncos – Yes, Indy just beat you on Sunday night night, but Peyton Manning still wins more of those match ups than he loses.
4. Indianapolis Colts – You looked great in the win over Denver but losing Reggie Wayne was a critical loss.
5. New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees has the Saints cruising in the NFC South. Let’s see if it continues.
Earlier today, Jim Leyland, manager of the Detroit Tigers, announced his resignation. His departure follows the Tigers elimination from the American League Championship series last week. The Tigers were eliminated by the Boston Red Sox in six games in spite of a stellar starting rotation and the big bats of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in the lineup. The 68 year old skipper leaves Detroit with three consecutive division titles and two World Series appearances. Leyland’s 1,769 career wins land him 15th on the all time wins list for baseball managers. An impressive resume to say the least.
Likewise, the Cincinnati Reds manager, Dusty Baker, was recently released by the Reds after failing to advance beyond the Wild Card playoff game against the Pittsburg Pirates. Since the release of Baker, the Reds have spoken with or about several potential replacements for Baker, but no hire has occurred. It seems to me that the best possible candidate (unless Tony LaRussa decides to un-retire), just became available. Though Leyland stated that his tank lacked the fuel to continue managing, surely a talent laden roster in one of baseball’s first and finest city’s is enough to “top off” his interest.
The way I see it, the Tigers owe the Cincinnati Reds a proven winner such as Leyland. After all, the Reds lost the winningest manager in Cincinnati Reds history to the Tigers when Sparky Anderson went north in 1979. He then went on to become one of the winningest managers in Tigers history and won the 1984 World Series along the way. Now the Tigers have the chance to return the favor. Perhaps the Tigers front office wouldn’t mind filling Jim Leyland’s gas tank for the four hour drive south to the Queen City.
Below is a fantastic read by Paul White of the USA Today. White introduces the reader to “the Cardinal way” by giving you a sneak peek behind the scenes of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball organization. The article is a must read for all serious baseball fans regardless of whether you root for the Cardinals or not.
The leaves are changing from green to yellow, red, and orange. The air has turned cool and crisp and a hoodie or a sweater is now essential to evening comfort. And on Friday night’s I can hear the voice of the announcer calling the football game at the local high school in town. This all means one thing…it’s Fall.
Autumn is a wonderful time of the year for sports fans. The World Series will begin in just a few days as will the start of another NBA season. The ponds have been frozen and hockey is back. College football and the NFL have accelerated into high gear and are right in the middle of their seasons. Midnight madness and the start of college basketball is also just around the corner.
Yep, all of the best sports are in full swing and life couldn’t get any better! Or could it? Seems that one of the most searched terms on Google yesterday was “cricinfo.” Cric what? Cricinfo, and it was one of the most searched words of the day yesterday. I can understand that because who in the world actually knows what “cricinfo” means?
Like thousands of other baffled readers, I asked Google to explain what in the world “cricinfo” was. As it turns out, “cricinfo” is an ESPN owned website that publishes and promotes all things Cricket. You know, the sport with bowlers, batsmen, and white uniforms on every player, or cricketer to be more accurate.
A quick visit to cricinfo.com revealed a website that hosted cricket stats, scores, and standings. Cricket pictures, quotes, and tweets. Video’s, blogs, and in depth stories of cricketers near and far. In fact, cricinfo.com even has a Facebook “like” button with nearly 2 million cricket followers worldwide. Digi-crickets, I suppose.
Who would have known? Cricinfo.com and Cricket available at my fingertips thanks to Google and the World Wide Web. I doubt that cricket will replace the NFL or the World Series anytime soon, but for nearly 2 million cricket followers, Fall just got a little better.
Every season is filled with surprises. Games that are surprisingly won or surprisingly lost. Teams that catapult to the top of the standings when no one dreamed it possible. Solid teams that plummet to the bottom of the standings in spite of their talent and previous accomplishments. The NFL can be as unpredictable as the weather and that is one of many reasons why we love it so much. Here are five of the biggest surprises of the season in my opinion. They are in no particular order.
1. The New York Jets have won three of their first six games. Who would have guessed, other than Coach Ryan, that the NFL’s most dysfunctional team would win three games in the entire season?
2. The Pittsburgh Steelers are 1-4 and in last place in the AFC North. That means that even the Cleveland Browns are ahead of the Steelers. It has been decades since the Steelers had a season like the one unfolding this year. Even their own quarterback declared them the worst team in the NFL. Ben has obviously not seen the Jaguars play.
3. The Kansas City Chiefs are undefeated at 6-0! We all knew that Andy Reid was a good coach, but undefeated as we approach the halfway mark? C’mon man, that is an awesome turnaround for any team. I will be cheering for the Chiefs to continue. Their good fans deserve it.
4. The New York Giants are 0-6 and look awful. We love the Manning family and any member of the Manning family gets a pass for just about anything, but one has to wonder just how long Eli can milk his family’s street cred. Even more vulnerable is head coach Tom Coughlin’s job in the wake of six straight losses. Really? The Giants 0-6? See #1 above for additional insight.
5. The #5 biggest surprise is a tie between the 1-4 Falcons and the 1-4 Redskins. Both teams have suffered catastrophic injuries which certainly will put the brakes on any season. The Falcons have lost their entire receiving corps and the Skins are trying to rehab their quarterback. But injuries aside, no one in Atlanta or DC thought that they would be at 1-4.
Stay tuned as more surprises are sure to come!
- NFL Week 6: Live Scores, Highlights and Reaction (bleacherreport.com)
There’s an old saying that claims that death and taxes are the only two things in life that are truly inevitable. I disagree. I have faithfully cheered for the Cincinnati Bengals for my entire life, or at least since being old enough to watch, play, and understand the sport. While I do not consider myself a football “expert” by any stretch of the word, I do feel as though I am qualified to speak intelligently on the historical accomplishments and blunders of the Bengals. I was there during the 1990’s, so I’m using the word “blunders” graciously!
So here is my list of ten things that you can count on to happen in every Cincinnati Bengals football game.
10. A disproportionate amount of off-tackle running plays.
The Bengals are not known for their offensive creativity. In a passing league, Marvin Lewis remains an “old school” smash mouth coach. Expect to see Ben Jarvus Green Ellis go off-tackle for two yards over and over again. Here’s hoping that the addition of Gio Bernard will change things in time.
9. In nearly every game the Bengals are good for at least one turnover in critical situations. For example, Andy Dalton threw an interception today against the Bills just outside the red zone. In their season opener loss to the Bears, Mohammad Sanu fumbled inside the red zone resulting in the potential loss of much needed points.
8. The Bengals defense will have their opponent on a 3rd and 17 only to allow an 18 yard pass for a first down to sustain a scoring drive. Seen it more times than I can count.
7. The Bengals opponent will get the ball near the end of the first half with a full field between they and the endzone. Lax defense will allow the team to march 60-80 yards in less than 90 seconds to give up a throw away field goal or touchdown which almost always comes back to haunt them later.
6. Not everything is negative in Bengal Land. In every game you can count on the Bengals looking absolutely brilliant on a series or two. This sounds like a positive but, in fact, it is a negative because we see what they have the potential to be if they could only overcome their inconsistency.
5. The inability to smell blood in the water and put a team away. It’s common for the Bengals to play well for 2-3 quarters and have their opponent on the ropes only to allow an amazing comeback that results in a dramatic Cincinnati loss. (Please see both of the Bengals last minute Super Bowl losses as proof)
4. That leads to me to my next point which is that the Bengals opponent will always make a run regardless of the score. Even in games that they do win we often see them give away a big lead only to win a nail biter (see today’s victory in Buffalo as evidence.)
3. The Bengals have the unique ability to make a rookie or untested veteran look like a Hall of Fame player. Again, just visit today’s game in Buffalo. Injuries forced the Bills to call a quarterback off the practice team earlier this week. One would think that such inexperience would result in a blow-out win for the Bengals, but one would be wrong!
2. The Bengals frequently play up or down to the level of their opponents. Last week the Bengals played the Patriots well and notched a big win. They played like a serious play-off caliber team. Today against the Bills, and earlier in the season against the Browns, they played down to the level of two clearly inferior opponents. In the process they lost to the Browns and nearly lost to the Bills. Great teams always the games that they are supposed to win.
1. And the number 1 thing that you can always count on during a Bengals game is asking yourself, “Why do I root for this team?” It can be hard to be a Bengal fan and you can expect a great deal of second guessing of your allegiance to a team that more often than not leaves you scratching your head and asking, “Why?”
- Bengals escape in overtime against Bills (profootballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Bengals vs. Bills: Bengals improve to 4-2 after 27-24 overtime win against the Bills (cincyjungle.com)