Bengals in Playoff Hunt??? Marvin Lewis steps up big…

Cincinnati Bengals, NFL. Well the Bengals did what you should do against a team that’s 1-8, but we haven’t been able to always say that in the past, so let’s take it and move on. 

Yes they looked good, but let’s keep it in perspective, its Kansas City.  KC has a non-existing passing game and Jamal Charles– and that’s what we saw today.  Charles was solid with 87 yards on 17 carries, but he was contained and neither Cassel nor Quinn could make the offense do much damage.  Dewayne Bowe, KC’s best and only dynamic wide receiver, was held without a catch.  So while the offense played a solid game, producing 28 points, I’m going to give this one to Marvin Lewis and the defense.  Both brought and displayed their A games today!

Let’s start with the defensive player of the game who stood out above the rest, and that was Geno Atkins.  I want to talk about just one series of plays that shows the kind of havoc this man can create. 

On KC’s second drive of the game:

  • Geno sacks Matt Cassel and hits his arm causing him to fumble as he’s getting ready to throw the ball.   Unfortunately KC recovers.
  • The very next play, he sacks Matt Cassel.  However, Terrance Newman was called for a holding penalty so it was null and void.
  • Two plays later Peyton Hillis fumbles the football as he’s being tackled by, whom else, Geno Atkins.

Talk about a dominating sequence of plays. 

Causing 2 fumbles with a would be sack sandwiched in the middle.  You just can’t play better than that.  The guy continues to impress and only gets better, which elevates the play of those around him.  Michael Johnson showed up multiple times late in the game getting a sack and 2 stops at the point of attack.  Honorable mention goes to Wallace Gilberry, the man on the DL that nobody knows.  He hustles and always seems to be around the ball the few snaps he’s in the game. 

With Ray Maualuga having a great game last week I tried to watch him closely and he played pretty well.  He had a couple missed tackles, which needs to change, but for the most part he was where he needed to be and helped keep Jamal Charles contained.  What impressed me the most was the speed he showed in coverage and how fast he would get to the ball in the open field.  The weight he has lost really has speed up his game a great deal and I don’t think he lost much of his power doing so.

The DB’s I didn’t really notice that much, which is a good thing.  I only saw one play that I made a note of and it was a nice pass breakup by Newman, but I’ll take it.  It means they didn’t get burned but played good solid bend don’t break defense.  They didn’t get burned and they held Quinn and Cassel to combined under 200 yards.  All that credit doesn’t go to the secondary, but it says they were sound and knew their coverage’s and played them well.

There were a couple KP citing’s.  He seemed to get picked on the few snaps he was in the game.  A lot of completed passes, but coverage seemed good enough.  He had a nice effort play on special teams downing a punt inside the 5.  When they picked him in April I didn’t quite have in mind him making his first “Nice Play” on special teams, but I’ll take what I can get.  A good play is a good play no matter where it comes.  Good to see he’s out their hustling on SP teams and his first round tag didn’t go to his head.  

Now I want to give a shout out to Marvin Lewis. 

I’m not a big Marvin fan– never have been, maybe never will be. 

He’s a good coach, but his teams in the past don’t know how to finish.  He can’t win the big game and he’s too passive a lot of times.  However, from the word go on Sunday it seemed that the demeanor of the team and the play calling was opposite of the norm.  The combination of the fake punt and going for it on 4th and 7, was a beautiful sight to see.  Since when does Marvin go for it on a 4th and 7 ever?  They were aggressive in their play calling, which reflected in the attitude of the players.  It’s like Marvin decided after that first drive that they were going to score a touchdown come hell or high water on their second possession and they went for it and did it, on an amazing catch by Green.  It seemed to lift the team and take that passion to the next level.  The players knew Marvin was there to leave it all on the field and they responded. 

When was the last time you said to yourself “Man, that was a well coached game?”  Well, I did on Sunday.  So props to Marvin who gets a lot criticism when they lose and not enough credit when they win.  Good game Coach. 

The offense to me had just a good day.  They did what they needed to, but very few times was I greatly impressed with their effort.  AJ Green of course had that great TD catch which makes it his 9th straight game with one.  Jermaine Gresham showed a lot of second effort and had an attitude about him that I don’t normally see.  He was getting into it with the KC defenders quite a bit, but this team needs a Gresham like that.  A Gresham with attitude and isn’t scared of anyone.  The passive one we see all too often just disappears into games never to be found, but yesterday he was all over the place and his numbers show it.

Underrated player of the week: 

Kevin Huber

Check this numbers out.  Punts of 57, 51, 48, 62, and 69 with the previous aforementioned punt downed inside the 5 by Kilpatrick packed in between.  That’s a 57.4 yard average.  That’s getting it done right there.  I know the field position battle doesn’t grab highlight reels, but Huber’s contribution was significant.

What it all means:

We are officially in the playoff hunt again.  We are 1 game back with a 3-7 Oakland team and a mediocre Dallas team the next two weeks.  We should beat the Raiders, plain and simple.  It’s the kind of game playoff teams win.  With the extra juice this game gains by it being CP’s return to Cincinnati I expect that crowd and those players will be on the next level come kickoff on Sunday and the Bengals won’t have trouble taking care of business.  Win these next two weeks and this team with make a believer out of me.  That glimmer of hope just got a lot brighter this weekend and I’m betting it will continue to grow.

Around the League:

There wasn’t anything earth shattering this Sunday that took me by surprise, but here are a few thoughts anyways:

  • Green Bay and Atlanta showed the difference between winners and 4-6 teams.  And interesting how Detroit is a disappointment and Arizona is playing surprisingly well even though they have the same record.  Shows you how much you should really listen to preseason talk….very little!
  • What’s up with Tampa Bay?  They were good 2 years ago and sucked like an industrial vacuum last year.  So they fire everybody and now they are good again.  Anyone figure that out?
  • Kudos to the Jets for not quiting on their season and delaying the rise of Tebow… Thank you Mark Sanchez.  On the other hand it gave Mike Greenberg from ESPN’s  Mike & Mike in the Morning in the morning hope again that his boys aren’t out of it yet.  Please Mike, they suck, nobody cares, let’s move on!!
  • Indy was brought back down to earth yesterday.  Bill tends to do that to people.  Welcome to the NFL Andrew.
  • I’ll say this again for those of you who don’t listen, Denver is legit.
  • And finally what happened in Houston?  The reincarnation of Chad Henne and Justin Blackmon finally showing us why they drafted him.  Mind you I can’t write this without mentioning Matt Schaub who threw for 500 yards and 5 TD’s and Andre Johnson with a mediocre day of 14 catches, 273 yards, and a score….OUCH!  Must have been something in the water.

 Fantasy Minute:

  • For those of you who didn’t listen to me last week and didn’t pick up Danario Alexander, you need to listen.  He went for 7 catches for 96 yards and 2 scores. Feel free to stop reading and check if he’s still available in your league.
  • I hope you all dumped Donald Jones like I told you too.
  • A couple of RB’s you can pickup if you need the help.   Mark Ingram and Marcel Reece.  Ingram is running well and is getting more touches than anyone and Reece went over a 100 on Sunday.
  • And lastly Brandon Myers.  Who?  I know, he’s got a perfect white boy name.  But he’s Oaklands TE and he has permanently replaced Vernon Davis in my starting lineup.  He’s CP’s favorite target and while I’ll be rooting for my Bengals on Sunday, we all know you can’t play fantasy with your heart and win.