The Rise of Cedric Benson and the Cincinnati Bengals | NFL Football
It’s not surprising to see a team play hard in the open week for the NFL football season. Understanding this, it was not surprising to see the Bengals have a spirited effort against the Broncos to begin the season.
When the team lost the game to a heart breaking touchdown by Brandon Stokley, I figured the Bengals would start the season 0-3. On paper, it only made sense that the Bengals would struggle as they played two playoff contenders in weeks two and three.
To my surprise (and most NFL fans) the Bengals did not fold up and lose their next two games. To see this team go on the road and beat the Packers then come back home and beat the Steelers was impressive.
These victories remind me of the spirited play we saw from this organization back in 2005 when the team won the AFC Northern Division.
Turning Things Around
The Bengals poster child for their turn around from misfits to respectability has to be their feature running back Cedric Benson. This summer I considered Benson a sleeper fantasy back because he was motivated and he ran hard at the end of last season.
Not only did he seem to have a new hop in his step but he was going to be one of few runners this year that would not be in a committee running game.
Benson’s play has been very sound but probably the biggest surprise out of Cincinnati has to be the defensive play.
So for the Bengals defense is 11th overall against the run, 19th against the pass and 13th in points given up. These numbers are a great improvement over previous seasons and Marvin Lewis appears to have his guys playing strong fundamental football.
Beyond those numbers, what impresses me most is their ability to shut down the opposing teams No. 1 receiver.
Against the Packers, Greg Jennings did not even have a catch and last week Santonio Holmes only had one reception. If the defense can stay close to this production, they will be primed to go back to the playoffs.
Taking Care of Business
I will be interested to see if the Bengals put down the Browns early this weekend. I’m sure Cleveland will come out and give this team a spirited fight at home.
Derek Anderson will get the start for the Browns and if the Bengals can apply pressure, it will make for a long day for Cleveland. Anderson is not mobile and is very susceptible to giving up sacks.
If the Bengals win this game they will go to 3-1 and next week they face off against the Baltimore Ravens. That matchup could be for the early lead in the AFC North and it would be fun to see the Bengals start playing in more meaningful games.
Fantasy Football Rankings for Bengal Players
Chad Ochocinco and Cedric Benson are probably the only every week starters in fantasy from this team. Carson Palmer could be but he needs to have stronger stats than he’s posted (not counting the Packers game) so far this season.
The Bengals defense is starting to become fantasy worthy as any team that can shut down the run and the opposing teams top receiver is always intriguing.
Many defenses have bad plays this weekend and the Bengals defense would make for a sneaky play against the Browns.
If the Bengals continue to play strong than fantasy football owners will be smiling all year. Bengal players came cheep this year in fantasy football drafts and your return on investment should be strong.
NFL Fantasy Football Information writer Sean E. Douglas: fantasy-info.com