This Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs' record is 2-1 while the Bengals are 2-2.
Going into the season, not much was expected from the Buccaneers. They won their first two games by beating the Cleveland Browns and the Carolina Panthers. Then they got destroyed against the Pittsburgh Steelers at home. The Bucs are now coming off a bye week to recover from that game and will travel to Ohio to face the Bengals.
Despite outplaying them, the Bengals somehow managed to lose to Cleveland last Sunday. The team has been inconsistent this year. They looked bad at times and looked good at times.
Here is pretty much all you need to know about this matchup.
Last week, the Browns double covered Chad Ochocinco which left Terrell Owens alone to abuse Sheldon Brown and catch 10 passes for more than 200 yards.
Carson Palmer was able to connect with Owens for a big day. Opponents are going to have to pick their poison with the Bengals duo. This week, Owens may have to face Aqib Talib.
Aqib Talib is the shutdown cornerback for the Bucs. Talib was suspended for the first game of this season. Apparently, Talib got all tanked up last summer and ended up with a battery charge after punching a cab driver.
Anyway, this guy has skills. He is one of the top corners in the league. Owens may not have it so easy this week. Owens is big, fast and has great hands. Talib is a top-notch corner and will have to live up to his reputation for the Bucs to stop the Bengals through the air.
The Browns double covered Chad Ochocinco last week. He finished the game with just five targets. Ochocinco had Eric Wright on him with a safety over the top to help out.
The Bengals have two productive wideouts. The Bucs will have to decide who they want to beat them.
Defensive lineman Michael Bennett will be active this Sunday for the first time this year.
The Bucs have struggled to rush the passer and are hopeful that Bennett can get it done. Tim Crowder is their current sack leader with two sacks. They only have four as a team for the season.
Cedric Benson was held to just 60 yards on 15 carries against the Browns.
We knew the Browns could stop the run. This proved true as Benson was stonewalled early in the game. The Bengals were forced to try to win by passing.
This year, Benson is averaging just 3.3 yards per rush. He is on a pace for over 1,000 yards. The Bengals will need to improve the running game this week.
The Bucs have struggled running the ball so far. They are 25th in the NFL in yards per carry which includes Freeman's runs. They are 28th in total yards. They will need the passing game to be large and that means that Freeman has to step up and make plays. The Bucs' passing offense is 26th in attempts and 23rd in total yards. Freeman is the 16th rated NFL passer.
More importantly, they will need to maintain drives to keep the Bengals off the field.
Bengals' safety Roy Williams injured his knee in the loss to the Browns. He will be out 3-4 weeks with an MCL sprain.
Chinedum Ndukwe will be the starting strong safety. Both of these guys lack cover skills and are more adept at stopping the run.
The Bucs' first-year running back Kareem Huggins has speed and has the ability to make people miss. Unfortunately, he has been out with a groin injury.
The Bucs hope to have him in the lineup for the first time on Sunday. Huggins will give the Bucs a change-of-pace runner to complement their other backs (Cadillac Williams and rookie LeGarrette Blount).
A healthy Huggins may help the Bucs improve on its 3.4 yards per carry average. They will try to get Huggins outside carrying the ball and get him the ball in the passing game. The Bucs are commited to running the ball. They are 11th in rushing attempts and are ranked 9th in time of possession.
Last week, Carson Palmer completed 25-of-36 passes for 371 yards and two touchdowns. They would prefer to run the ball which they couldn't do effectively last week.
Recently, SI.com's Peter King speculated that the Bengals might think about cutting Carson Palmer after the season. This seems ludicrous but he is a nationally respected writer and Palmer's skills seem to be on the decline. Stranger things have happened.
First round pick Andre Smith saw plenty of action against the Browns as he and Dennis Roland rotated every two series at right tackle.
This is surely a sign of things to come. Roland started but this was the most playing time for Smith so far this season. His most active game came after he was deactivated in the previous game against the Panthers. Smith had 21 snaps and did well in nearly all of them.
Smith if finally in game shape and should be help the running game improve against the Bucs and later on in the year.
Tampa Bay cheerleader - This picture has nothing to do with the game
The Bucs beat the Browns. The Browns beat the Bengals. Therefore, the Bucs should beat the Bengals.
The Bucs beat the Browns by 3. The Browns beat the Bengals by 3. Therefore, the Bucs should beat the Bengals by 3 or maybe 6.
The Bucs beat the Browns at home. The Browns beat the Bengals at home. Therefore, the Bengals will beat the Bucs at home.
Lets go with that.