Bengals Must Pull Rank


Posted: 8:30 p.m.

One of the things the Bengals have going into 2009 is pulling rank on 2008.

The Bengals are playing four of the six worst defenses from this past season, as well as three of the four worst offenses against a schedule of foes that finished a combined 18 games under .500 for a .465 winning percentage.

The reason you can never tell one year to the next? For instance, defensive head coaches could be on the way to Detroit and Denver and offensive minds could be ticketed to Cleveland and Kansas City.

But the numbers can provide a road map. The Bengals finished dead last in NFL offense for a lot of reasons this past year. One of them is they played 10 of their games against defenses that finished in the top 11.

The numbers forecasted trouble last January when the sked pitted the Bengals against eight top 10 defenses and six top 10 rushing teams from 2007. And the winning percentages proved to be not far off. The '08 sked went .577 in '07 and then ended up going .559 this past year.

Part of that .465 mix the Bengals face next year has just five games against top 10 defenses as well as games against the two worst in the Lions and Chiefs, the No. 29 Broncos and No. 27 Raiders.

The Bengals have only one top 10 defense out of the AFC North in the No. 6 Vikings. They go four times, of course, against the No. 1 Steelers and the No. 2 Ravens.

The teams are a little tougher offensively but, still, the Bengals are set to play only four in the top 11 in the No. 2 Broncos, No. 3 Texans, the No. 8 Packers and No. 11 Chargers.

SLANTS AND SCREENS

There is a chance Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis could go against old friend Jack Del Rio in the Senior Bowl later this month. The Jaguars head coach could also be taking his staff to coach the Jan. 24. college all-star game in Mobile Ala. The Bengals look to be the leading candidate to coach either the North or South.

A Bay Area newspaper has linked the Raiders' desperate offensive needs to Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh in free agency. The magic number? It looks to be $9 million per year since the franchise tag number for receivers figures to be about $9.8 million.

The Bengals have won 46 games in Lewis' six seasons, one more than Tampa Bay, four more than Washington, six more than Buffalo and four fewer than Jacksonville in that same stretch, which may seem a bit surprising.

Not surprising though is how the records show the Bengals just haven't been able to catch Pittsburgh and Baltimore in that time frame. The Steelers have won 62 and the Ravens 53.

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