Matchup: Not just a bland finale

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VS.

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KEY MATCHUPS
DECEMBER 30, 2007

Call it ChadFest, the Tuna Bowl, or CasinoMania Part II. But whatever it is, this isn't your average ordinary season finale between two losing teams when the 6-9 Bengals play at 1-14 Miami on Sunday.

If Marvin Lewis' No-Major-Shakeups Proclamation holds, it won't be the last game of a Bengals era as Bill Parcells starts another one.

"No reason for the Bengals to blow it all up," says The Guru, a former top football executive in the NFL. "They've got to make some moves on defense and make sure the quarterback gets on track, but a lot of change just sets you back."

"They need more on defense," says The Chief, a personnel director not in the Bengals division. "The only reason they have a shot to get to .500 every year is their quarterback play."

Oh yeah. The game. They give the edge to the Bengals.

WHEN THE BENGALS HAVE THE BALL
* center>QB Carson Palmer vs. Dolphins defensive coordinator Dom Capers*

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Palmer

The Dolphins allow opposing quarterbacks to rate a 90 with virtually twice as many TD passes as picks (25 to 13).

"That should be a good matchup between two talented guys," The Guru says. "Taylor is still really good. He's big, he's strong, he can still spin move you and he's dangerous."

Making it even more intriguing are the reports back in early March that said the Bengals were poised to host Porter for a free-agent visit when he abruptly signed with Miami before getting on the plane.

"I think Rudi still has something left in the tank, but they have to decide if he's still a 25-carry per game guy anymore," The Guru says. "I think he'd be fine like Jerome Bettis was later in goal line and short yardage, but they may have to go get somebody else in the draft or free agency. And it doesn't have to be a high pick. Plus you've got Kenny Irons (knee) coming back and he'll be healthy."

Houshmandzadeh, trying to salt away the NFL receiving title, is also second in third-down catches with 29, tied with Cleveland's Joe Jurevicius, and four behind Baltimore's Derrick Mason.

Edge, Bengals.

"But I like that young secondary," The Guru says. "They're OK there. I like the young corners and Marvin White and (Chinedum) Ndukwe are going to hit people. I think Robert Geathers is going to be OK as a pass rusher even though he didn't have many sacks (3.5) this season. He got moved to linebacker and moved back and that's got to take you out of a flow. They have to sit down and decide what to do with Justin Smith. I like the guy's effort and reliability, but they have to decide what the value is for a solid guy that is having an off year (two sacks) and usually gets seven or eight."

"I think Jones has been a great pickup for the Bengals," The Guru says. 'He's smart, tough, he helped settled things down for them when they really needed it. They've got some good linebackers there with (Rashad) Jeanty and Landon Johnson, but Johnson's not a middle backer. They need to get somebody in there."

"The only thing they have to worry about there is Ginn running down the field past people and he really is a threat," The Guru says. "Hall is going to be OK. You're going to win some and lose some. It will be interesting to see where these two guys are now."

Mays, who didn't get here until Oct. 2, could deny safety Herana-Daze Jones his second straight special teams tackling title with five hits Sunday. Jones hasn't played in the last five games but his 18 tackles have held up. Adams is fourth with 10 and a forced fumble. Maxwell, who signed the day Jones went on IR a month ago, has three tackles and forced a fumble in two games.

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