2009 Cincinnati Bengals Season Preview
2009 Cincinnati Bengals preview from MadduxSports.com. With the football season around the corner grab the internets best football picks handicapper Maddux Sports and turn a profit while betting against the nfl point spread each and every week.
2009 Cincinnati Bengals Predictions
By Adam Barone
Missing Carson Palmer in 2008 was a huge hit to the Bengals’ plans for climbing the NFL’s power rankings. They went 4-11-1, and looked disgustingly similar to the laughing-stock Bengals of old. Palmer is back this season, however, and a number of quality new players were brought in to help rekindle the ascension. Don’t be surprised to see Cincinnati as a popular sleeper team this season.
Palmer’s elbow injury caused him to play in just four games in ‘08 and helped the team see that backup Ryan Fitzpatrick was not a sufficient backup. J.T. O’Sullivan was signed as the new backup after Fitzpatrick was let go, so the position should be steadier. Palmer is among the league’s best passers when he’s healthy. He’s topped 25 touchdowns and 3,800 yards three times in his six year career—five year considering that he never saw the field as a rookie.
Cedric Benson was signed last season because the team was desperate, but ended up carrying the ball 214 times for 747 yards. He was re-signed in the offseason and is now at the top of the depth chart. Versatile back Brian Leonard was acquired via trade, and could see some time at both fullback and halfback after Chris Perry was let go. DeDe Dorsey and Kenny Watson are both still on the roster, but don’t figure to have much of an impact.
Chad Ochocinco caught only 53 passes in 2008 for a disappointing 540 yards. He still seems to be unhappy with the team, but hasn’t made any trade requests recently. His former counterpart, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, went to Seattle as a free agent, and was replaced by ex-Jet Laveranues Coles. Chris Henry is still the third receiver, while Andre Caldwell is likely the fourth. Reggie Kelly and Ben Utecht are the tight ends, but rookie and former Missouri star Chase Coffman may take Utecht’s job. Utecht was a disappointment last season, playing in only 10 games and catching just 16 passes.
The offensive line was terrible last season, in part the fault of Fitzpatrick, who had trouble finding targets and would try to scramble too often. As a team they allowed a pathetic 51 sacks. First round pick Andre Smith was arguably the best lineman in the draft, and should start at left tackle after Levi Jones was released. Second year tackle Anthony Collins will start on the right side. The center spot will be open in camp, but Johnathan Luigs is the favorite. Both guards, Bobbie Williams and Andrew Whitworth are returning. They’ll provide stability for the group.
Former Bear and Cowboy Tank Johnson was signed to shore up the middle of the defensive line, and will probably start alongside Domata Peko. Two disappointing defensive ends will start with them—Robert Geathers and Antwan Odom. Odom was signed before last season with high expectations, but had just 26 tackles and three sacks in 12 games. Geathers set the bar high with 10.5 sacks in 2006, but has only six since. Second year tackle Pat Sims and rookie end Michael Johnson will also see plenty of time.
Considering that this is the Bengals, the linebackers are impressive. Former USC star Rey Maualuga was drafted in the second round, and will see plenty of playing time. Middle linebacker Dhani Jones led the team in tackles last year and is unlikely to lose time on the field. One of the two may move to the outside. The outside, however, features 2008 first round pick Keith Rivers. Rivers was making a name for himself with 37 tackles before he was injured seven games into the season. Brandon Johnson and Rashad Jeanty will also see a lot of action.
The secondary will probably give up some big plays this season, but can certainly hit. Roy Williams and Chris Crocker were signed as free agents. Both have reputations for being physical. They’ll team up with former Notre Dame safety Chinedum Ndukwe who had three sacks last season. The cornerbacks, Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall both bring high expectations, as both were first round picks—Joseph in ’06, Hall in ’07.
Kicker Shayne Graham made 21 of 24 field goals in 2008, and provides a steady leg for the unstable offense. Andre Caldwell has both return jobs, but hasn’t been sensational.
Do the Bengals have it in them to have a bounce-back year? With Carson Palmer healthy it’s absolutely possible. The quarterback is the most important position in all of sports, and Palmer is one of the best in the league. Cincinnati can be competitive again if he can stay healthy and the new talent on defense meshes well.