SEPTEMBER 28, 2008
For once we've got Marvin Lewis in agreement with the Bengals.com roundtable.
How big is it?
Sunday's mirror game against the 0-3 Browns is so big that even the head coach says it is.
"It's a big game for the Cincinnati Bengals, it's a big game for the city of Cincinnati," said Lewis, who always wears it close to the vest. "We need to get a win. That's why it's a big game."
It's a game the roundtable sees the 0-3 Bengals winning in a match of out-of-sync passing games, underachieving offensive lines and inexperienced secondaries.
"After playing the Giants so tough last week, there are more good things happening for the Bengals," says The Scout, a scout who scours a couple of pro leagues. "The other team's got the quarterback in the crosshairs and a defense that hasn't really shown up yet."
The Guru, a former top football exec in the NFL, is also picking the Bengals:
"They're playing at home and Cincinnati made a positive step last week and Cleveland didn't. The Bengals got out of the traffic jam, now they have to start driving. This game is one that they should win because of their experience at quarterback and their two receivers."
Unlike everyone else in Bengaldom, Lewis says he's not looking beyond September, where the October From Hell waits. Three of the four games are on the road with the first two in the dens of Tony Romo and Brett Favre. The lone home game pits the Bengals against a Pittsburgh team they haven't beaten at home under Lewis. Next at home after coming off the road? Jacksonville's voracious running game.
"I don't know if what we've got coming up is any different than what we went through," Lewis said. "I ... saw the end of the San Diego game and they went from not having a chance in the world to being in the Super Bowl race. What have you done for me lately?"
That echo in Bengaldom would be, "Not much," but Lewis is waiting for a light at the end of the tunnel. He said he broke the season into three segments before the bye was changed from Oct. 26 to Nov. 9. He was looking at the first six games, of which four are on the road. Then the next four. Then he was looking at the final six, when the longest road trip is Pittsburgh.
"I don't think the NFL changes much," Lewis said. "You reshuffle and there are teams you never thought would start well that are (winning)."
With the new bye giving the Bengals three road games in October, Lewis said, "It's all better at the end."
He likes to throw against the Browns. He's completed nearly 65 percent of his 269 passes for 20 TDs and 13 picks in eight games.
Whitworth, who has blanked All-Pros Albert Haynesworth the past two weeks, gets another one in Rogers when Cleveland goes three and four wides.
"He's got raw ability," The Scout says, "but you didn't draft him to play this soon."
The Guru thinks Ocho will get Mucho: "With his experience, he should give them problems back there."
"They're a lot like the Bengals," The Guru says. "The QB has missed time, the receiver (Braylon Edwards) has missed time. (Tight end) Kellen Winslow always seems nicked up. It's hard to generate any kind of an offensive continuity with that."
"Geathers is just the kind of guy that gives Shaffer problems," The Scout says. "A bigger guy that can move."
The Bengals have been pleased with their run fits, but in all three games they've been prone to giving up one killing long run. If there is a guy that is going to do it against them, it's this guy just on karma alone.
Edwards made life miserable for Hall, his fellow Michigan alum, in last year's first meeting. He had eight catches alone that day for 146 yards, as well as two touchdowns. Hall would like to make sure Edwards stays in check for another week.