OCTOBER 14, 2007
How big is this one?
The numbers say if the Bengals have a shot to get to 9-7, 10-6 or 11-5, they have to get to 2-3. In the first two seasons under Marvin Lewis, they could only get to 8-8 after starting 1-4.
The Bengals.com roundtable still thinks the Bengals have enough talent to make a run, but it is split on Sunday. The Chief goes against the Chiefs and sides with the Cincinnati offense. But The Guru gives Kansas City the edge at home this week with the Bengals defense still reeling with the glut of injuries at linebacker.
"I think the Bengals have to score 30 nowadays and I wouldn't discount the Kansas City offense at all because they did put up 30 in San Diego," says The Chief, an NFL personnel director not in the Bengals division. "It's going to be tough because the Chiefs aren't going to want to drop two in a row at home (they haven't done it in three years), but I have great faith in the Bengals offense and I think it is better than the Chiefs defense in the deciding matchup."
"I have always felt that the foundation of a defense is linebacker because they are so involved in run and pass," says The Guru, a former top football executive in the NFL. "The (Bengals) just don't have enough healthy people right now. And you know Kansas City is going to go to (running back) Larry Johnson right away because that's what they do best and they haven't been able to do it. I think the Bengals can win, but they need Carson Palmer to play like he's capable and that means numbers like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, and they have to help him by running the ball more effectively. They know 40 passes a game is too many."
|* center>QB Carson Palmer vs. Chiefs defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham*|
"Carson Palmer keeps you in every game," The Chief says, "no matter how he's playing," and The Guru says, "He's got the big arm, but there's no question he's missing that third receiver (Chris Henry)."
"Derrick Johnson is the guy that runs around for them," says The Guru of the Chiefs left outside linebacker who has three sacks, an interception and forced fumble. Last time out against the Bengals in the '06 opener, he had nine tackles, a quarterback hit, and a forced fumble.
It will be Andrews' second appearance at right tackle and he feels better prepared and more comfortable than that first time. That came in the second quarter in Indy's raucous RCA Dome last year facing double-digit sacker Robert Mathis without the lead. Arrowhead is loud, but it's no dome.
"They aren't a mystery defensively," The Chief says. "I think they're a better team than people think. They started with two games on the road and that's an unfair disadvantage. Their defense is better than it has been, but they don't have a gamebreaker on that side of the ball. I think Cincinnati will score on them, it's just a matter if their defense can hold up."
"Cincinnati is going to have to use a bunch of different combinations," The Guru says. "I would think you'd see a five-man line, keep them guessing, moving guys around."
The key in this one will be the first 10 minutes. The Bengals must not give Johnson any crack of hope and stop him early to reinforce the recent bad past. They also have to keep the Chiefs and their always rabid fans down. Kansas City has yet to have a lead in the first half and if they crack through Sunday the crowd could take control of the game.
Except for Cleveland's Kellen Winslow (six catches for 100 yards), tight ends haven't hurt the Bengals this season. The Ravens' Todd Heap, Seattle's combo of Will Heller and Marcus Pollard, and the Pats' Benjamin Watson didn't break 30 yards.
Where have you gone Dante Hall? The Chiefs are 17th in punt returns and 27th in kick returns.
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Ced gets another say
Record sack race underway
Carl Lawson is one of the many guys happy to see voluble and valued veteran left end Carlo Dunlap surface for this week's mandatory minicamp. Lawson, who usually sets up at right end on passing downs, nearly broke Dunlap's rookie sack record last season and he likes the competition. And on Tuesday he offered a challenge to a guy he calls "like an older brother to me."
Scrutiny is mandatory for offense
Just the presence of the very large Cordy Glenn at left tackle at Tuesday's start of mandatory minicamp is evidence of the effort to shore up the offense since he arrived via trade for a first-rounder. But the hopes of a little-used role player also reflect how this offense may be changed by as much philosophy as looks. Remember Ryan Hewitt, the forgotten fullback?