NFL Team Previews: Cincinnati Bengals

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NFL Team Previews: Cincinnati Bengals
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Pigskin Heaven's Sascha Bartels is breaking down every single team in the NFL prior to the season. Here is his analysis and forecast for the Cincinnati Bengals. Click on a team to read their preview.

AFC East: BUF | MIA | NE | NYJ

AFC North: BAL | CIN | CLE | PIT

AFC South: IND | HOU | JAX | TEN

AFC West: DEN | KAN | OAK | SDG

NFC East: DAL | NYG | PHI | WAS

NFC North: CHI | DET | GBA | MIN

NFC South: ATL | CAR | NOL | TBA

NFC West: ARI | STL | SFO | SEA

 

What’s new?

Perhaps a little addition by subtraction.

Their most steady offensive player, T.J. Houshmanzadeh, is off in the Pacific Northwest now.

Stacy Andrews, John Thornton, Erich Ghiaciuc and Dexter Jackson are also among the Bengals heading out of town.

In to replace Housh is former Jet Laveranues Coles, while other acquisitions include Tank Johnson and safety Roy Williams.

Last year’s maligned draft Jason Shirley is set to make a jump across the line, from DT to OG.

Cincinnati appears to have had a very fruitful draft, starting with Andre Smith.

They also found several others still available in spots where most would have expected them off the board, including LB Rey Maualuga, DE Michael Johnson, TE Chase Coffman, C Jon Luigs and CB Morgan Trent.

 

Three burning questions

Will Carson Palmer resume his role as top-caliber NFL QB?

Even without Houshmanzadeh, it appears that all signs point to yes.

If Chad Eightfive returns to form, that would be an added bonus, but the Bengals receiving core looks plenty good for a QB of Palmer’s caliber even if Chad continues being Chad.

Coles is a very good addition, and Chris Henry may have finally gotten it, and he’s impressed everyone in camp so far.

Add to that second year pros Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell and rookie Quan Cosby and the Bengal receivers are in good shape.

If the revamped offensive line keeps Palmer upright, he should at least hit his averages, which should mean around 4000 yards and 28-30 TDs.

 

Will the Bengal defense start catching up to their division rivals?

Certainly, nobody expects the Bengal defense to play as well as Pittsburgh’s and Baltimore’s.

But in case you haven’t noticed, they were 12th in defense last season, and 14th in scoring defense.

There is definite talent on this defense, including Keith Rivers, Chinedum Ndukwe and Rashad Jeanty.

The one problem?

Not enough pressure on opposing QB’s, only 17 sacks in 2008.

 

Will the Bengals be able to run the ball?

The offensive line is revamped, with the rookies Andre Smith, Augustus Parrish and Luigs all likely to see playing time sooner rather than later.

Add to that uncertainty at RB, a group that’s currently led by perennial disappointment Cedric Benson.

With the inexperienced line, it may be best for Cincinnati to give opponents a heavy dose of Brian Leonard, who is probably the best on the roster at gaining the extra inches when running into the line.

 

Prognosis

Cincinnati is one of my candidates for surprise team of the year.

Like I already mentioned, the defense was vastly improved last season, and the offense returns Carson Palmer.

This is a team that last year took the Giants into overtime, handed the Eagles a tie, and won their last three games.

The Bengals should find a way to win at least six of their home games, but the road schedule is a different story, with Green Bay, Oakland, Minnesota, San Diego and the Jets joining the always tough division rivals.

The team is capable of upsetting a few of those teams, and they take a big step forward this season.

Final Record: 8-8

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This is an original article by Pigskin Heaven Staffer, Sascha Bartels, you can read it, more of Sascha's articles and more from the Pigskin Heaven staff, here.

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