2009 Cincinnati Bengals: Season Preview
By Wilson of Predictem.com
2008 Record: 4-11-1 (3rd in AFC North) ATS 7-9, O/U 6-10
Stadium: Paul Brown Stadium
Head Coach: Marvin Lewis
Superbowl Odds: +5600
Training Camp Site: Georgetown College
Training Camp Dates: July 31 August 18
Intro: The Bengals won just 4 games during the 2008 season and never really worried their opponents until a push late in the season when they managed to go 4-3-1 to finish out the year. Head coach Marvin Lewis has two years left on his current contract and he hopes to leave the painful memory of last seasons efforts behind and start fresh in `09.
The Bengals defense looked good towards the end of the year and the offense was fueled by RB Cedric Benson who carried the ball 214 times for 747 yards respectfully. The big concern is the return of QB Carson Palmer, who only played in 4 of the first 5 games before exiting due to an elbow injury. Palmer never returned, but he is expected to be back this season and reports from camp indicate that he is ready to play. Cincinnati is still a team looking for stability and leadership. If Carson comes back healthy, hell assume the leadership role and with a little help from his co-workers- get this team out of the gutter.
Whos New? WR Laveranues Coles, RB Brian Leonard, QB J.T. OSullivan, S Roy Williams
Key Draft Picks: OLT Andre Smith (Alabama Crimson Tide) ILB Rey Maualuga (USC Trojans)
Whos gone? OT Stacy Andrews, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, WR Glenn Holt, OT Levi Jones, RB Chris Perry, WR J.T. Houshmandzadeh, S Dexter Jackson
Offense: For the Bengals to even have a shot at competing in the AFC North they will need QB Carson Palmer to return and stay healthy the entire season. He is the key to making the offense effective. Palmer creates a worry for secondary defenses with his ability to chuck the long ball. Also, he cant afford to suffer any more injuries as he has had his share of major knee and elbow damage, so the O-line will need to protect him, like a mother guards her babies!
To be honest, the running game could be better in Cinci, but the way Cedric Benson showed he can perform during a difficult season may be just the type of back to push the others into stepping up and securing the ground game. Benson will probably carry the ball 20-25 times per game.
WR Laveranues Coles will replace the Seattle Seahawk bound T.J. Houshmanzedah. Coles has lost some speed but is still an effective route runner and can go deep if needed. Chad Ochocinco is back after only catching 53 passes for 540 yards but some say that he was simply missed by QB Fitzpatrick who replaced Palmer after week five. Apparently Fitzpatrick had trouble seeing the open receiver but hopefully that all changes with Palmer back on the field.
The offensive line used to be a solid unit but has fizzled out in the last couple of seasons. This year the O-line will look different as players will be shifted to fill departed holes but the addition of rookie Andre Smith may add new life and energy to a line in need of a spark. If Smith learns quickly and matures well he will be a stellar Pro.
Defense: The Bengals defense is suspect again this season as they dont have a standout/star player to rally around. However, they have made efforts to piece together a quality group that can compete on a weekly basis.
DT Domata Peko will likely be the player who shines the most on defense as he has a knack for racking up tackles and moves well. LB Keith Rivers improved quite a bit last season and has the talent to be a game-changing defensive stopper.
The secondary for the Bengals has issues with steady play especially in corner positions as David Jones has skills but he needs to be more consistent. CB Leon Hall is a solid guy who has game savvy and the tools to back it up but still gets beat occasionally by quick receivers.
SS and ex-Dallas Cowboy Roy Williams has arrived to challenge Chinedum Ndukwe for the starting position. Chris Crocker may start at FS as Marvin White is recovering from a knee injury.
Special Teams: PK Shayne Graham has established himself as a top ten kicker in the NFL. He is nearly always on the mark when expected to covert on needed FGs.
Rookie Punter, Kevin Huber, from the University of Cincinnati has earned the gig as he has great ball placement and hang time.
Cincinnati has struggled with the return game and is still waiting for someone to emerge as the main guy. It may possibly be Andre Caldwell on kickoffs (he averaged 26 yds per carry on 13 returns) and Antonio Chapman on punts.
2009 Cincinnati Bengals Schedule:
September 13 Denver Broncos
September 20 at Green Bay Packers
September 27 Pittsburgh Steelers
October 4 at Cleveland Browns
October 11 at Baltimore Ravens
October 18 Houston Texans
October 25 Chicago Bears
November 1 BYE
November 8 Baltimore Ravens
November 15 at Pittsburgh Steelers
November 22 at Oakland Raiders
November 29 Cleveland Browns
December 6 Detroit Lions
December 13 at Minnesota Vikings
December 20 at San Diego Chargers
December 27 Kansas City Chiefs
January 3 at New York Jets
Betting Odds and Projections:
Obviously the Bengals need a ton of help in order to make it to the post season in `09 but with the return of QB Carson Palmer they might have a glimmer of hope. The performance of all units will need to improve as they have issues on both sides of the ball. Cinci is better than previous years, and should make some strides this season, but a playoff appearance is probably not in the cards.
The sportsbooks have the Bengals currently at +5600 to win Superbowl XLIV. The NFL is a humbling league for teams who are not healthy, well equipped and prepared. The Bengals will need all three ingredients to make a run but in all candidness, we wouldn’t take the Bungals if they were 560-1 much less 56-1.