Last year, the Bengals D improved as the season went on. The problem was the loss of pro bowl QB Carson Palmer. Palmer is back and from all reports looks as good as ever. That is not good news for the rest of the AFC North and the league.
Without an NFL quality passing game last year, the Bengals relied on their running attack. And after they picked up former 1st round pick HB Cedric Benson. Benson looked much better in a Bengals uniform than he did in the Bears garb and that isn’t easy. If he is really as good as he looked last season, with a passing game to share the load, he could be a major factor for the Bengals this year.
Palmer will have a steal to throw to in ex-Jet Laveranues Coles. Coles has some speed left but his real value is opening up the under routes to free the Chad formerly known as Johnson to catch the deep ball.
The big question on O for the Bengals will be the line. There will be 3 new starters including first round pick RT Andre Smith plus last year RT Andrew Whitworth moves to the left side. The replacements look fair at this point. If they come together, the O will be solid. If not, Palmer will have to rely on his pocket awareness to keep him upright and healthy.
The D improved on stopping the run but like so many other teams, they lack an above average pass rush. There is some indication that the pass rush will be better this year. If Robert Geathers is healthy after his surgery and Tank Johnson keeps his head on straight, the D line should generate more pressure.
The linebackers should be better with the return of OB Keith Rivers and the development of MLB Dhani Jones. Rookie USC LB Rey Maualuga is the wild card. If he gets a chance, he could be a force on first and second down. He will have to figure out how to cover receivers unless he is the designated blitz linebacker on passing situations.
The addition of ex Cowboy SS Roy Williams will help against the run but can get burned covering receivers. That is the reason he is no longer wearing the star on his hat. The corners improved last year and have recovery speed to make up for mistakes in coverage. They also play the run better than most CBs. FS Chris Crocker is physical but struggles at times in coverage.
The Bengals look much better than last year and should easily win more than the 6 games that Las Vegas projects them to get.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .