Terrell Owens Makes Cincinnati Bengals Favorites For AFC North
Terrell Owens has tried everything to get into the spotlight.
Sideline outbursts—VH1 shows—Throwing teammates under the bus.
So it comes as no surprise that NFL fans have lost a lot of respect for him since his glory days. But on Tuesday, when ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported T.O. signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, NFL circles nationwide should have been applauding the move.
I hear Cincinnati’s Walmart is having a sale on vuvuzelas.
Bengals fans have reason to rejoice once again.
They were able to win a stingy AFC North in 2009, but were bounced quietly in the playoffs by the New York Jets. The city had to be a bit disappointed. With Owens in tow, 2010 may be painted orange and black.
The biggest problem for the Bengals in the playoffs was Carson Palmer’s inability to get going. He had only 146 yards passing and a QB rating of 58.3, which just won’t get it done.
A big part of that is due to the Jets’ defense. Corner back Darrelle Revis locked up Cincy’s best option, Chad Ochocinco, and the rest of the receiving core was as reliable as a Toyota’s brakes.
T.O. flips that script.
He may not be the high-flyer he used to be, but Owens still caught 55 passes from quarterbacks who wouldn’t normally start in the CFL. His receptions and yards were higher than all Bengals receivers whose last names don’t consist of numbers.
Obviously, this isn’t the T.O. that went to the Super Bowl. He’s 36 years old and has lost a step or two, but his reputation demands and garners extra coverage and attention on its own.
Actually, his ego could use its own corner back.
So now look Palmer’s weapons: Ochocinco, Owens and Antonio Bryant on his sides, with Cedric Benson behind him. Sounds good, right?
Teams can no longer line eight guys in the box to stop the run, because the wide out corps’ experience will get them huge gains if they aren’t solidly covered. Even then, a double team could be required to slow the veterans down.
And that’s when Benson will go Gwen Stefani on them.
But also notice what Owens has done here with the terms of the deal. Signing for $2 million shows he is okay being second fiddle to Ochocinco, which is something he hadn’t done for any other person he’s played with before.
Also, by signing for so little, the Bengals can explore other avenues. They haven’t lost any huge parts to their team, but they can sure close up a few holes. The defense is still stellar, but the offensive line could use some help.
Once that’s all taken care of, who’s to stop the Bengals from repeating as AFC North Champions?
For the sake of space, we won’t consider the Browns.
Let’s start with the Steelers, a perennial powerhouse, but will go into 2010 feeling woozy. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s six-game suspension could put them in an early hole, and after losing many of their offensive weapons, they just don’t look like Super Bowl contenders.
But if Bengals’ faithful really want to be sure, invite him to an Ohio State frat party.
Then there’s the new favorite: the Ravens. Joe Flacco, and Ray Rice were good enough before, but adding Pro Bowl receiver Anquan Boldin makes them lethal on offense. And there’s no reason to talk about their defense because it’s so consistent.
With killer safety Ed Reed possibly unable to play though, the addition of Owens becomes critical. In head-to-head matchups, it’s going to be hard to play both Bengal receivers one-on-one, and with Reed’s ability on the field, the Ravens might be in trouble.
Since the AFC North has only had a champion repeat once, winning head-to-head might be the key to doing so in an extremely tight division.
So I speak for Bengals fans all over when I welcome T.O. with open arms to Cincinnati. There may be risks about your diva-esque ways and diminishing speed, but the possibilities are too great to get bogged down in optimism.
Plus, you just look so great in orange already.
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