I usually try to give the so-called NFL experts a break. Sometimes. But Vic Carucci totally missed the mark in his early picks for the division winners. Carucci picked the Baltimore Ravens to win the AFC North and I can understand that. The Ravens did win a playoff game last season and have improved themselves in the offseason. But Carucci’s take on the Bengals – at least part of it – are about as accurate as a Ben Roethlisberger bar pee at last call (Yup, I really just wrote that. Wow.).
Here’s the part that makes sense to me:
“The Cincinnati Bengals might not repeat as division champs, but they should be in the hunt until the very end of the season. Carson Palmer remains effective, provided he is fully healthy. He also needs Chad Ochocinco to act more committed to his role as a No. 1 wide receiver.”
And here’s the part that makes no sense whatsoever:
“Questions at running back and linebacker won’t help the Bengals’ efforts to rebound from their late-season collapse and quick playoff exit”
What questions are there at running back? Cedric Benson ran for over 1,000 yards and is the clear-cut No. 1 back. Solid reserves Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard (my Bengals man-crush) back him up. Cincinnati would appear to have great depth at RB with a physical starter, a shifty backup (Scott), and a very-productive third-down specialist(Leonard).
And furthermore, what questions are there at linebacker? The team has two young – and promising – starters on the outside (Rey Maualuga and Keith Rivers) and a savvy veteran in the middle (Dhani Jones). Yes, Maualuga is recovering from a minor injury and a DUI arrest, but neither are expected to keep him off the field. Plus, the Bengals are experimenting with Michael Johnson at SAM backer in certain situations. And behind all those guys are Brandon Johnson and Rashad Jeanty, two capable reserves.
So I just don’t get it. I don’t see any major questions at either of those spots. But then again, what do I know?
Wait, don’t answer that.