Every year before the start of the season, I usually feel the same way: my heart says the Bengals will be a contender, while my head says the Bengals will be a disaster. And for most of the last 20 years, my heart has been broken.
This year is different.
This year, my head tells me the Bengals will vie for the playoffs, and possibly more. But my heart refuses to be moved.
My head says Chad Ochocinco is motivated, working hard and in great shape. Just look at how he stiff-armed Tedy Bruschi to gain yards after the catch! Chad never gets YAC!
My heart says he’s an aging, over-rated clown whose act has gotten more than old and whose endless fascination with himself will only lead to more trouble.
My head says Carson Palmer is healthy and rested, and ready to resume a Pro Bowl career that was interrupted first by Kimo Von Kneecapper in 2005 and then by the injury-fueled collapse of the offensive line from 2006 through 2008.
My heart says he’s never gotten over the mental hump following the injury, and the increasingly poor play of the o-line since has him worried about getting killed, not thinking about where to put the ball, when he’s on the field.
My head says the offensive line is better than last year. My heart says it still won’t be good enough. They both say the same things when I compare Cedric Benson and Chris Perry.
And the defense? My head says Tank Johnson and Roy Williams are upgrades. My heart says they’re just two more bargain-bin free agents, the kind Mike Brown loves to sign and who rarely make a difference. And the only thing that makes my heart laugh is hearing my head talk about Rey Maualuga’s “potential.”
My heart and my head do agree on one thing: defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is the real deal. So there’s that, at least.
Just wait until tomorrow, my head says.
Yeah, replies my heart. Just you wait.