This week we have Nate from the Bengals Blog, Stripe Hype.
1) That was a surprising win for the Bengals last week against the Chargers. What went right for them?
Carson Palmer had the highest passer rating of his career, even with Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens on the sidelines. Receivers Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell made some big plays in the passing game and the Bengals young defensive line, led by rookies Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins harassed Phillip Rivers all day long. All four players will be a big part of the game plan once again this weekend.
2) What went wrong with this team the rest of the season?
In short, everything. The team went away from a formula that worked well last year, throwing a lot more passes, in part because they fell behind early in games and had to. They have been rather terrible in third-down conversion percentage, both on offense and defense. There were also critical penalties, costly turnovers, and a number of injuries on defense. (I believe Cincinnati is tied for the league lead in the number of players sent to Injured Reserve). The high expectations that Cincinnati had to start the season soon dissolved into a losing streak that tied a franchise record.
3) What are some of the injury concerns for the Bengals going into this game?
Chad Ochocinco could miss his last game as a Bengal, but that could help the team if last week was more than a fluke. I expect Ochocinco to play. Terrell Owens, however, is out for the season. The secondary is also undermanned, but that has been a recurring theme.
4) Do you see the Bengals continuing their dominance over the Ravens this weekend?
I think it could be close. Cincinnati will have some extra motivation considering it could be the last game for several key Bengals on the Cincinnati sideline. Marvin Lewis, Cedric Benson, and Chad Ochocinco all have contracts that expire at the end of the season. Plus, Cincinnati’s youngsters have been playing at a high level the last few weeks. I’d pick Baltimore as the favorite, but not a heavy one.
5) At this point, is Marvin Lewis begging Mike Brown to fire him?
Surprisingly, no. Lewis’ recently said that leaving after this season “wasn’t the plan.” And his comments to AOL’s FanHouse suggested that he may even provide Brown a vision for the future once the season ends. It’s hard to truly evaluate Lewis as a head coach considering the owner that he works for, but he doesn’t seem to be as sick of Bengals owner Mike Brown as the fan base is.