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.
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)
Due to the current government shutdown any visits to The Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota are forbidden. On the bright side, the sports version of Mount Rushmore never closes. Let’s load up the kids and head for football’s Black Hills.
Four larger than life granite faces of former U.S. Presidents are carved into the granite of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota. The sculpture is a memorial to the leadership of these Commanders-in-Chief and the contribution they made to our great nation.
History tells us that the decision to depict Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln was not without controversy. Apparently, the decision of which four Presidents to be depicted was a matter of intense debate. In like manner, there is typically great debate surrounding the selection of athletes to the sporting Mt. Rushmore’s.
With that said, let’s consider a Mt. Rushmore of NFL Quarterbacks. Let the debate begin!
My personal choice for the Mount Rushmore of NFL quarterbacks (all-time) are as follows: Joe Montana – Bret Favre – Peyton Manning – Tom Brady. Apologies to Johnny Unitas, John Elway, and Dan Marino among others.
After five weeks there are three teams that remain undefeated. The Broncos, Saints, and Chiefs sit atop the standings and power rankings headed into week 6. Statistically, teams that start 5-0 have a 90% chance of making the playoffs and a 40% chance of making the Super Bowl. Those are numbers that make the folks in the Rockies, the Midwest, and the Bayou very happy!
Here is my Week 5 power rankings. Don’t agree? Leave a comment and let me know about it.
1. Denver Broncos 5-0
Peyton Manning is absolutly insane right now. Barring a catastrophic injury to #18 the Broncos are going to cruise. Don’t forget… Von Miler is coming back soon too!
2. New Orleans Saints 5-0
Drew Brees is a tremendous quarterback and team leader. Add to that, Coach Sean Payton is back at practice every day. The Saints have raised some eyebrows in this remarkable resurgence.
3. Kansas City Chiefs 5-0
Coach Andy Reid has made believers out of many NFL fans who expected the Chiefs to continue sputtering. The only negative for the Chiefs right now is that they play in the same division as the Broncos. I would like to see the Falcons send Tony Gonzalez back to KC to help his former mates contend for a championship. That would be a fitting end to a certain Hall of Fame career.
4. Indianapolis Colts 4-1
Andrew Luck has played like he has 15 years experience under his belt. The only thing that is keeping the Indy fans from crying over the loss of Peyton Manning is Andrew Luck. In a few more years Peyton will be modeling for his Hall of Fame bust and Andrew will still be lighting up NFL defenses. The Colts have insured that they will have a top-tier QB under center for nearly 30 years.
5. Seattle Seahawks 4-1
Yes, they lost to #4 Indy last week, but the ‘Hawks are still a great team who look to be a force deep into the NFC playoff picture. Pound for pound, and inch for inch, Russell Wilson is as good a QB as there is in the NFL. If the ‘Hawks can remain healthy they will be hard to beat.
1. Denver Broncos 4-0
There is really no debate on this selection. Peyton Manning is playing at an insane level of greatness. I doubt that the Broncos will go 16-0 because it is just too hard, but if any team can in 2013 it’s this team.
2. Seattle Seahawks 4-0
The Seahawks engineered a great comeback win against a potential Super Bowl opponent in the Houston Texans. Look for Russell Wilson to lead his team to the NFC Championship and possibly beyond.
3. New Orleans Saints 4-0
The return of Sean Payton has paid immediate dividends for the Saints. They look solid at home and should give the Falcons all they can handle in the NFC south.
4. New England Patriots 4-0
Gronk is getting healthy and the Patriots are still the Patriots. Expect a solid season where they can win any game and go deep in the playoffs.
5. Kansas City Chiefs 4-0
OK. No one saw this coming. Andy Reid has turned things around at Arrowhead quicker than anyone could have imagined. Will it last? Only time will tell, but for now, the Chiefs are in the top five.
- Week 4: NFL Rankings of Power 1-5 (brentmwold.wordpress.com)
- Week 5 NFL Power Rankings: Broncos and Saints separating themselves from the pack; Seahawks slip (milehighreport.com)