Carson Palmer to Chad Johnson used to be one of the most dangerous combinations in the league. If you want to get technical, Palmer now throws to Chad Ochocinco, but the point is things just aren't the same in Cinci.
The Bengals had gone through a renaissance of sorts, making the playoffs in 2005 thanks in large part to the arm of Palmer and a talented trio of receivers. However, that year in the playoffs, Palmer went down with a ripped up knee and things haven't been the same for Palmer, or the Bengals since. He battled injuries since that surgery and just hasn't seem quite right since that Steelers game.
Chris Henry has struggled since having been suspended due to his off the field conduct. T.J. Houshmandzadeh plays in Seattle, and Chad Johnson and is now Chad Ochocino coming off one of the worst years in his career.
The Bengals did bring in Laveranues Coles and they like their second year Florida speedster Andre Caldwell, but Caldwell has shown very little except promise, and Coles promises very little.
Now 1,000 yard rusher Rudi Johnson is nowhere to be found as former Bears bust Cedric Benson now resides in the backfield. This just isn't the offense that was slinging it up and down the field even when they were losing.
Some comments have been made about Cincinatti's familiarity with the 3-4 defense. They play against it at least six times a year in the AFC North, so they certainly have seen how it can work. Considering two of the best defense in the league reside in their division, you would expect they could handle it.
But all you have to do is look at the record to see that just because they see it a lot, doesn't mean they're having success. The Bengals haven't had a winning season since 2005, and they've only lost on offense since then. Clearly, any advantage they have from seeing the 3-4 defense all the time is negated by the fact that they're just not a great offensive team anymore.
Against a Denver team who was horrible against the run last year, the Bengals managed just 86 yards on 27 rushes. Oh, and the Broncos just switched to a 3-4 too, without half the talent Green Bay does.
Yes, the Packers made Jay Cutler look like a fool last week, but throwing to new receivers (who aren't very good anyway) certainly didn't help. Palmer does have some young faces to throw to, and his top target from last year plays in Pacific Time now, but Chris Henry and Chad Whateverheisthisweek are talented and explosive. This would not be a good week to let them find a rhythm.
This game and the next are trap games for Green Bay; teams they should beat but they could very easily overlook thanks to their imminent Monday Night matchup with Adrian Peterson and Co. (He's the only big-name player on that team right?).
The Bengals defense has been much improved the last two years despite being much maligned under Marvin Lewis. If it weren't for one of the wackiest plays in the NFL regular season history, the Bengals would be heading into Lambeau 1-0 and feeling confident about their team. And the Packer's offense wasn't particularly brilliant Sunday Night. Cinci could have felt good about their chances.
But Brandon Stokley invoked the spirit of Madden users everywhere and broke the Bengals hearts. They come in winless, struggling, and thoughts of "here we go again" are likely creeping in.
If the Packers let the Bengals hang around, their confidence will grow. Get out to a fast start and an early lead though, and the Bengals could hang their heads and quit.
People like to say NFL players don't do that, but when a guy like Carson Palmer who has played in Cinci his whole career, gets beaten and beaten it effects a person's psyche. At a certain point those wounds don't heal as fast and you don't recover as fast from a bad throw, bad drive, or bad game.
The Bengals are coming off a bad game, and it is up the Packers defense to make sure they continue to hang their heads. The Bungles don't have much of a chance if that happens.