Category Archives: Football

Week 1 Picks and Best Bets

My favorite part of the NFL Season. Making my picks, both straight up and against the spread, and then comparing the guys on CBS and ESPN.

Thursday Night Football

Atlanta @ Philadelphia (PK) (O/U 44.5) – The season opener. The defending champs look to start their season off strong, but without Carson Wentz. Nick Foles won that SB, but hasn’t looked good in the preseason. Matt Ryan and co. should be much more comfortable in year two with OC Steve Sarkisian. Falcons take advantage of no Wentz and force Foles to poor decisions. Falcons 27-23.

Early Sunday Afternoon Football

Pittsburgh (-4) @ Cleveland (O/U 44) – It looks like LeVeon won’t be showing up. That is reflected in the line. That will hurt the Steeler offense and make this a tight one. Big Ben struggles on the road, but he owns the state of Ohio. Steelers 20-17.

San Francisco @ Minnesota (-6.5) (O/U 46) – The Kirk Cousins era begins in Minnesota and he’ll go up against Garappolo-mania, who hasn’t lost a game as a starting quarterback. He also hasn’t played against a defense like the Vikings. Vikings 24-16.

Cincinnati @ Indianapolis (-3) (O/U 48.5) – Andrew Luck returns after missing all of last season, but his blindside protector is going to miss the game. That spells bad news against one of the most underrated front fours in the league. Andy Dalton should be able to find AJ Green and others as well. Bengals 27-20.

Buffalo @ Baltimore (-7.5) (O/U 40.5) – Well, Nathan Peterman is starting. It can’t go worse than his lone start of  his NFL career did, when he was benched at halftime after throwing five first half INTs. It still won’t be pretty against a tough Baltimore defense. Baltimore 24-9.

Jacksonville (-3) @ New York Giants (O/U 43.5) – Odell Beckham v. Jalen Ramsey. That’s going to be a show. But, there is much more going on that just those two. Overall, the Jags are the more talented bunch. Bortles plays game manager and the Giants get beat at home. Jaguars 21-17. 

Tampa Bay @ New Orleans (-9.5) (O/U 49.5) – The first game since the Minneapolis Miracle for the Saints and they get a great matchup. Tampa Bay, without Jameis Winston, will struggle, especially with Mike Evans being shadowed by Marcus Lattimore. Brees should be able to spread the ball around and let his playmakers do what they do. Saints 34-17.

Houston @ New England (-6.5) (O/U 51) – Only one can hope this year’s game will be as good as last year’s when Tom Brady threw the game-winning touchdown with under a minute to go. Deshaun Watson is back, and might have some rust, but the Texans should be able to score some points to go back and forth with the Pats. But, they won’t have enough. Patriots 28-24.

Tennessee (-1.5) @ Miami (O/U 45) – I am not too high on either club, but Tennessee is the more talented group. However, it’s never easy for a first time head coach, especially on the road. The Dolphins make one more play. Dolphins 21-20. 

Late Sunday Afternoon Football

Kansas City @ Los Angeles (-3.5) (O/U 48) – The top two teams in the AFC West get to go to battle in week one. Kansas City takes a step back with key losses on defense as well as the transition to Pat Mahomes. The Chargers are primed for a big year behind their defensive line. Chargers will take advantage of Mahomes’ inexperience. Chargers 34-28.

Seattle @ Denver (-3) (O/U 42.5) – How times have changed since these two met in the Superbowl a few years back. The Seattle defense is a shell of its self, and Denver hasn’t figured out a post-Peyton plan. Both offenses should struggle, therefore it should come down to defense. Denver’s is better. Broncos 17-13.

Dallas @ Carolina (-3) (O/U 42.5) – Another 3-point spread between teams with playoff aspirations. These two teams are fairly even, but Carolina has the slight edge on defense. Normally Dallas’ offensive line could make up for some of their imperfections, but they aren’t the same and banged up. Cam Newton should be able to make enough plays. Panthers 23-21.

Washington @ Arizona (-1) (O/U 44) – Both teams have significant holes on their team which will keep them from being real contenders for playoff spots, but they should have a competitive hard nosed battle. Sam Bradford is still healthy and should be able to control the clock with more weapons than Alex Smith has. Cardinals 28-23.

Sunday Night Football

Chicago @ Green Bay (-7.5) (O/U 47.5) – Aaron Rodgers back, and Khalil Mack now lining up on the other side in one of the NFL’s oldest rivalries. Mack will be on a pitch count, which hurts Chicago’s chance to win. Rodgers is going to find ways to put up points, specifically by looking newcomer Jimmy Graham’s way. Packers 30-20.

Monday Night Football

New York Jets @ Detroit (-6.5) (O/U 45) – The youngest QB to start a season opener, Sam Darnold,, on Monday Night Football. Darnold has never seemed phased by the pressure, but he is turnover prone playing against a defense that takes chances. That might not end up well for the Jets. Lions 27-21.

Los Angeles Rams (-4)  @ Oakland (O/U 49.5) – Jon Gruden’s return. Not going to go well. The Rams are significantly better, and Oakland’s defense is a disaster without Khalil Mack. A snoozer wraps up week one. Rams 38-17.

Lock of the Week: Cincinnati (+3) at Indianapolis

Other Best Bets:

Under in SF-MIN

LAR (-4) at OAK

ARI (-1) v. WAS

2018 NFL Prediction

Football is back! Here is my picks for the 2018 NFL year.

NFL-Shield-1024x541

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots 12-4$
  2. New York Jets 6-10
  3. Miami Dolphins 6-10
  4. Buffalo Bills 4-12

AFC North

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6
  2. Cincinnati Bengals 9-7*
  3. Baltimore Ravens 8-8
  4. Cleveland Browns 4-12

AFC South

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars 11-5$
  2. Houston Texans 9-7*
  3. Tennessee Titans 7-9
  4. Indianapolis Colts 6-10

AFC West

  1. Los Angeles Chargers 10-6
  2. Kansas City Chiefs 8-8
  3. Denver Broncos 7-9
  4. Oakland Raiders 6-10

NFC

NFC East

  1. Philadelphia Eagles 11-5$
  2. Dallas Cowboys 8-8
  3. Washington Redskins 7-9
  4. New York Giants 7-9

NFC North

  1. Minnesota Vikings 11-5
  2. Green Bay Packers 10-6*
  3. Chicago Bears 7-9
  4. Detroit Lions 6-10

NFC South

  1. Atlanta Falcons 11-5$
  2. New Orleans Saints 10-6*
  3. Carolina Panthers 9-7
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5-11

NFC West

  1. Los Angeles Rams 10-6
  2. San Francisco 49ers 7-9
  3. Seattle Seahawks 7-9
  4. Arizona Cardinals 6-10

NFL PLAYOFFS

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Superbowl XLIII

New Orleans Saints v. New England Patriots

Subpar defense. Lack of offensive weapons. It doesn’t matter. The AFC is so diluted that the Patriots do not need to have a superb team to get back to the big game. Rolling through with wins over the Texans and Chargers has them matched up with the Saints, who is the lone survivor of the brutal NFC Playoffs. Drew Brees, who will break multiple NFL records this season, gets back after winning it 9 years ago. Two of the greatest going at it. Both 40+ years old. A pretty crazy concept. Who wins? Lets take a look at each facet of the game…

Passing Offense – Patriots
Rushing Offense – Saints
Rush Defense – Saints
Pass Defense – Saints
Head Coach – Patriots

In a game with two of the greatest, the game actually comes to down to neither. It will come down to who can run the ball better. The combination of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram might be the best duo in the league and they bring the title back to the Big Easy.

Saints 31
Patriots 28

SB MVP: Alvin Kamara

Season Awards

MVP: Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

OPOY: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

DPOY: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars

OROY: Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

DROY: Bradley Chubb, DE, Denver Broncos

COTY: Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals Game-by-Game Predictions

Two straight losing seasons. 13-19-1. No playoff win since 1991. Marvin Lewis gets extension. Wait, what!?? How could this be? The Cincinnati fan base had had enough. Many claimed to “never support again.” They were just “the same old Bengals.” But this off-season WAS different, believe it or not. A new defensive coordinator, an offensive coordinator that was taken off the “interim” tag, which means a both new coordinators. Seven new coaches, including firing a coach that was here for 23 years. Cutting veterans, such as Adam Jones, George Iloka, Ryan Hewitt, and recently signed Chris Baker. These are things that this franchise hasn’t done in the past. It’s another restart, which is exactly what Joe Goodberry wrote about this weekend. The fourth one of the Marvin Lewis-era. The three previous, 2003, 2009, and 2011, produced records of 8-8, 11-5, and 9-7, including two playoff appearances. The national narrative is rather somber about the Bengals hopes this season, mainly because of the Coach-QB combo. However, there are a few that actually believe in them, such as Peter King. Restarts are good, especially when the team has as much young talent as this team does.

Week 1: September 9, @ Indianapolis

The best time to play this Colts team is early, no question about it. Andrew Luck hasn’t played in a regular season game in 616 days come Sunday. He’s missed 26 games over the last three seasons. There is bound to be some rust. On top of that, the Colts weaknesses are matched up against the Bengals strength. Indy struggles to pass protect, and this Bengals front has a chance to be one of the best in the league. The Bengals have protected Andy in preseason, while the Colts secondary is one of the worst. I think the Bengals get off to a fast start and that will be too much to put on Luck this early. Bengals 27-20. Record: 1-0. 

Week 2: September 13, vs. Baltimore (TNF)

I can’t seem to wrap my head around the Bengals getting to the postseason without winning the first two. While it certainly doesn’t guarantee that they will get there if they win both, it puts them in position early. The Bengals have been blessed with another Thursday night game at home. That makes it 5 straight years. It hasn’t been to their advantage, as they are just 2-2 in those games. Baltimore is going to be fired up after the Bengals kept them from getting to the postseason a year ago. But in this game, I think the short week benefits the Bengals and AJ Green should have a field day against the a Ravens secondary that won’t have Jimmy Smith. Bengals 19-14. Record: 2-0.

Week 3: September 23, @ Carolina

The Bengals will get the long week to prepare for Carolina and the fanbase will be behind them big time at 2-0. This isn’t a good matchup for Cincinnati, though. Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey spear head their running attack, which will give the Bengals defense fits. They never have fared well against mobile signal-callers. Of the two straight on the road, this one is more winnable, but a late drive and field goal gives them the first loss of the year. Panthers 23-20. Record: 2-1.

Week 4: September 30, @ Atlanta

Back to back, on the road, out of conference. That’s brutal for the men in stripes. It makes it worst that traveling to Atlanta will be one of the two toughest games all year. Look for Mohammad Sanu and Calvin Ridley to step up with William Jackson following Julio, while Vic Beasley gets after Dalton on the other side of the ball. This is the biggest deficit of the season for Cincinnati. Falcons 30-14. Record 2-2.

Week 5: October 7, v. Miami

The Bengals finally get their first Sunday home game in week five as the Dolphins come to town. Coming off two losses, a momentum swing is much needed. Without weapons on the outside, Ryan Tannehill will struggle to move the ball, similarly to the 2016 Thursday night game in Cincinnati. It is my feeling that this will be the John Ross coming out party, as he goes deep for two big scores. Bengals 31-16. Record: 3-2.

Week 6: October 14, v. Pittsburgh

The big matchup. If the Bengals want to win the division, a win (or two) over the Steelers is necessary. Vontaze Burfict should be much better in his second week back from suspension, not to mention how ready he’ll be following last seasons hit he took from JuJu Smith-Schuster. As much as the Bengals will need this game, I cannot with confidence think that they can go out and beat Pittsburgh with the youth that they have. Steelers 27-17. Record: 3-3.

Week 7: October 21, @ Kansas City

For the second straight week, the Bengals take on a playoff team from last season . The new look Chiefs will be a much different test than what they’ve had in the past. The west coast style that Andy Reid perfected with Alex Smith is going to go vertical with Pat Mahomes behind center. The Chiefs need to outscore teams to win and I think their home-field advantage is the difference here. Kansas City 28-23. Record: 3-4.

Week 8: October 28, v. Tampa Bay

The crossroads of the season. At 3-4, the Bengals face a must win game before the bye week. Jameis Winston will be back at this point, but the Buccaneers offense looks very one dimensional with their situation at RB. The Bengals defensive line should be able to force Winston to make poor decisions, something he has been prone to do in his career. Cincinnati heads into the bye week with a big win. Bengals 24-14. Record: 4-4 

Week 9: BYE WEEK

Week 10: November 11, v. New Orleans

Much like beating the Steelers is a necessity to win the division, beating a team at home that they shouldn’t is also needed to make the playoffs. The bye week at the midway point of the season should help the team get healthy, and they will need everyone to take down the Saints. Andy Dalton has had success against the New Orleans in the past, and I think that happens again. Tyler Boyd and the RBs will be crucial in the passing game, as the Bengals upset the Saints. Bengals 23-21. Record: 5-4.

Week 11: November 18, @ Baltimore

Andy Dalton and AJ Green have won three of the last four matchups in Baltimore, with 18 having big games. I think the Bengals are also better than the Ravens, but not by leaps and bounds. Because of this, I think it will be really hard to sweep them, something that was done in ’14 and ’15. Ravens 17-13. Record: 5-5.

Week 12: November 25, v. Cleveland

Six games left in the season and the Bengals haven’t played the Browns yet! That should bode well despite Cleveland being much improved this year. Tyrod Taylor may or may not still be the starter under center at this point in the season. This very well could be the beginning of the Baker-era, as Cleveland comes in off their bye. Regardless, the Bengals have dominated the Browns (other than the UGLY TNF game), and that won’t change in these teams first matchup. Bengals 34-16. Record 6-5.

Week 13: December 2, v. Denver

Heading into 3 of the last four on the road, the pressure will be on the Bengals to hold strong when Denver comes to town. John Elway’s ever-longing search for a quarterback has landed on Case Keenum, who did “lead” the Vikings to the NFC Championship last season. I believe it was more fluke than talent. The Broncos defense should be great once again, but there is nothing out there that says they should be markedly better offensively. Cincinnati went to Denver last season and beat the Broncos, and they should make it two in a row in a nail-biter. Bengals 21-20. Record: 7-5.

Week 14: December 9, @ Los Angeles Chargers

The beginning of the final stretch begins out west taking on the LA Chargers, a sneaky pick for the Superbowl. Andy Dalton and company have won 3 of the their four matchup against LA, including 3-0 in the regular season, but this is a different club. Philip Rivers has a reliable running game, but more importantly a dominating defense. Two of the best DLs will battle in this game and I just can’t seem to believe that the Bengals will be able to block them. Dalton will be running for his life, as the Chargers take it. Chargers 27-17. Record: 7-6.

Week 15: December 16, v. Oakland

Jon Gruden returns to Ohio for the first time since taking the job back in Oakland, but this game looks much different now than it did a week ago. Oakland has the oldest roster in the NFL, while the Bengals have the youngest. With Khalil Mack in Chicago, Andy Dalton should have more time to carve up the questionable secondary. Bengals 24-19. Record 8-6.

Week 16: December 23, @ Cleveland

Baker Mayfield should no doubt be starting at this point in the season, as this game will mean much more to Cincy than their counterparts up by Lake Erie. But, like so many times before when these teams play, the Bengals front seven dominates. Geno, Los, and Carl Lawson should be all over Big Game Baker. Bengals 27-20. Record 9-6.

Week 17: December 30, @ Pittsburgh

Here it is. Exactly what the NFL wants. Pittsburgh 9-6. Cincinnati 9-6. Meet in Pittsburgh to end the season. Winner take all. We’ve seen this before. 2005, 2006, 2015. Now 2018. One thing they all have in common. Pittsburgh winning. As the youngest team in the league, many of the Bengals haven’t experienced this type of atmosphere, and none of them have won in it. The Killer Bees sting again. Pittsburgh 34-31. Record 9-7.

Will this be good enough to make the playoffs? Check back tomorrow to find out!

 

One Bold Predictions for all 32 NFL teams

Last year I did the bold predictions for the first time. I completely forgot about them and just now checked them out. It certainly was a mixed bag.

Here are some of the good ones:

Cleveland Browns – Even with the confidence from Hue Jackson, DeShone Kizer can’t fix his accuracy issues and the Browns head into the offseason without a clear plan at the league’s most important position, yet again.

Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck’s shoulder never gets to 100% and Scott Tolzien starts the entire year. The Colts win 3 games and get a top two pick in the draft.

Los Angeles Rams – Jared Goff shocks us all putting together a top-16 fantasy season as the Rams win 8 games and set up a bright future, which includes Sammy Watkins.

Philadelphia Eagles – Without a consistent run game, the Eagles rely on 2nd year pro Carson Wentz, who like his 2016 counterpart, Jared Goff, takes a big step to stardom throwing for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns.

I pretty much hit the nail on the head in Kizer, who was miserable all year. He finished with a 53% completion percentage and went 0-15 as the starter. Andrew Luck, indeed, missed all season. While it wasn’t Tolzien who started, the Colts finished with the 3rd worst record. Jared Goff actually shocked everyone and the Rams are now a favorite to win their division. The Rams actually won 11 games and won the division. Lastly, Carson Wentz did throw 30+ TDs and put the Eagles in the position to win the NFC. He didn’t hit 4,000 yards, but could have if he didn’t miss the final three games.

Now, for the not so good ones…

Buffalo Bills – Tyrod Taylor struggles out of the gate and never gets things going. Rookie Nathan Peterman takes over and shows promise as a potential franchise quarterback.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Fournette continues to have foot issues, and the Jags offense continues their miserable ways. The Jags are picking in the top 5 for yet another year and take one of the three quarterbacks.

Kansas City Chiefs – Taking Tyreek Hill off of returns is proven to be a mistake, as Hill can’t be relied on as a number one receiver and finishes outside the top-50 WRs in fantasy.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Famous Jameis puts it all together and finishes the year as the number one fantasy quarterback. The additions of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard free up Mike Evans for big time production all season long.

Yikes. These couldn’t be more off. They are even bad for bold predictions. While Tyrod did get benched, but it only last for one HALF! Nathan Peterman was so bad. Yet, he is actually starting this season. Blake Bortles had an up and down season, but the Jags were far from a bottom five team. They were a poor coaching half away from the Superbowl.  Tyreek Hill certainly did not disappoint, and I really regret trading him before last season in fantasy. Lastly, Famous Jameis. Not only did I pick him as the top fantasy QB, I picked him to win the MVP. Not so much. Another subpar year and a suspension to start this season has Tampa Bay wondering if he is even their franchise QB.

Now, for this season’s rendition…

Arizona Cardinals – Sam Bradford stays healthy. That’s as bold as they come, right!? Josh Rosen does take over for the final three games and tosses 10 touchdowns to 1 interception.

Atlanta Falcons –.In a loaded NFC, Matt Ryan relies on his two-headed backfield on Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to the best record in the NFC.

Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco’s preseason is actually just a facade. He gets benched at the bye week. RG3 and Lamar Jackson run a two QB system the rest of the season, setting up for Jackson to take over in 2019.

Buffalo Bills – Nathan Peterman still stinks. Josh Allen isn’t ready. The offensive line is 5 turnstiles. The Bills win 1 game and pick at the top of the draft.

Carolina Panthers – Luke Kuechly wins DPOY, but the Panthers offense is too one-dimensional to win enough to get back to the postseason.

Chicago Bears – Khalil Mack brings back the Monsters of the Midway. Despite a slow start, he breaks the NFL sack record with 24.

Cincinnati Bengals – With breakout seasons from Carl Lawson and Andrew Billings, the Bengals lead the NFL in sacks. William Jackson III cements his place as a top-tier corner as they head back to the playoffs.

Cleveland Browns – Eliminated for all intents and purposes at the bye week, Baker Mayfield takes over to play the final 6 games. He leads to league in passing plus rushing yards during that time.

Dallas Cowboys – Michael Gallup quickly makes everyone forget about Dez, as he leads all rookie wideouts in catches and touchdowns.

Denver Broncos – Case Keenum from 2017 isn’t actually Case Keenum. He reverts back to the norm and gets benched for Chad Kelly. John Elway is now on the hot seat with his inability to find a quarterback.

Detroit Lions – Kerryon Johnson gives the Lions a rushing attack for the first time since Barry Sanders. He leads all rookie running backs in yards.

Green Bay Packers – Davante Adams becomes a star. The lone reliable target for Aaron Rodgers catches 17 touchdowns to lead the NFL.

Houston Texans – Deshaun Watson goes full Carson Wentz in year two. He wins MVP as Houston gets a bye in the playoffs.

Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck actually isn’t the same. He has issues all year and goes on IR after 12 games.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Jalen Ramsey talks more than anyone. For whatever reason, his play doesn’t back it up this season. He gets suspended during the season and enters a offseason long holdout.

Kansas City Chiefs – Pat Mahomes dazzles and confuses Kansas City fans all year long. He leads the NFL in 40-yard completions and interceptions.

Los Angeles Chargers – Philip Rivers saves his best for 2018. Despite more injuries in the preseason, he leads the Chargers to a division title while winning the MVP.

Los Angeles Rams – Cooper Kupp catches 100 passes, Todd Gurley scores 15 touchdowns and the Rams find themselves playing for the NFC title.

Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill has no weapons. He gets benched as the Dolphins win just 3 games.

Minnesota Vikings – Remember a Vikings RB who came back from an ACL injury to lead the league in rushing. Yeah, so do I. His name is Dalvin Cook. And he does it in 2018.

New England Patriots – Without reliable receivers, Rex Burkhead takes over. He leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage and reminds everyone that the Patriots play chess, while the rest of the league is playing checkers.

New Orleans Saints – Alvin Kamara wasn’t a fluke. The do-everything back runs and catches for 10 touchdowns each.

New York Giants – The hype surrounding Saquon Barkley quickly fades. He fails to rush for 800 yards and has everyone wishing the Giants would have picked the guy running things for the other New York club.

New York Jets – Led by Jamal Adams, the Jets lead the NFL in forced turnovers. While this isn’t enough to make the playoffs, they win 8 games. Sam Darnold is a true franchise quarterback.

Oakland Raiders – Jon Gruden is known for berating his top wideout with passes all year long. Amari Cooper leads the league in receptions, but the Raiders defense sorely misses Khalil Mack.

Philadelphia Eagles – Carson Wentz misses the first four games, but Nick Foles goes 3-1. Wentz comes back and leads the Eagles back to the Superbowl.

Pittsburgh Steelers – LeVeon doesn’t show until week five. The Steelers are never the same as they miss out on the playoffs. Mike Tomlin’s job becomes up in the air.

San Francisco 49ers – The Garoppolo pandemonium quickly ends, as the 49ers don’t live up to lofty expectations and finish last in the division.

Seattle Seahawks – With the Legion of Boom gone, the Seahawks finish with a bottom five defense. However, Russell Wilson sets NFL records on the offensive side of the ball to lead the Seahawks to a division title.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ryan Fitzpatrick goes 0-3 in Winston’s absence. Dirk Koetter is fired after 6 games. Jameis Winston is no longer looked at as a franchise quarterback. Tamba Bay wins 3 games and takes Will Grier next April.

Tennessee Titans – Mariota follows up his disappointing season with another. In fact, he doesn’t even finish the season as the starter. His future is in jeopardy.

Washington Redskins – Although Alex Smith repeats his numbers from 2017, the Redskins set a record on the ground with the worst rushing offense in NFL history.

Updated 53-Man Roster Projection

One preseason game left. After a dominating half when starters were playing last Sunday, the Bengals roster is starting to take shape. As with many teams, most guys’ spot on the 53 is safe. The final game Thursday night against the Colts will help fill out the final 4-6 spots, if that. With the two teams then playing to open up the season on September 9th, there will be little if no “showing” much of anything. Here is my projection of the 53-man roster that will be finalized after this weeks preseason finale.

OFFENSE (25)

QB (2): Andy Dalton, Jeff Driskel

The battle for the backup quarterback spot continued Sunday with Matt Barkley getting the first shot, along with most of the starting offensive line. Jeff Driskel, who was the second QB to play in Dallas, followed him and much like the rest of the offseason, the offense just seemed smoother and crisper. If performance is what the Bengals are going off of for the backup spot, Driskel is the easy choice.

Cut: Matt Barkley, Logan Woodside

RB (4): Joe Mixon, Gio Bernard, Mark Walton, Tra Carson

While the passing offense has looked solid to exceptional during the preseason, the running game has been everything but. Much, if not all, of the struggles can be attributed to the offensive line getting manhandled at the line of scrimmage. Mixon, Bernard, and 4th round pick Mark Walton are locks. However, the small bright spot of the running game has been Tra Carson. He leads the team in carries and yards, as he is averaging 4.5 yards per attempt. He also has the only rushing touchdown.

Cut: Brian Hill, Jarveon Williams, Quinten Flowers

H-Back (1): Ryan Hewitt

Ryan Hewitt still has two years left on his deal, but his snap count has decreased steadily since his rookie campaign. Last year, he was used on just 11% of offensive plays. I’m not sold on him making it, and it will come down to whether or not they want to keep a 10th offensive lineman.

Cut: Cethan Carter, Jordan Franks

WR (6): AJ Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, Josh Malone, Alex Erickson, Auden Tate

The potential from the starting receivers was on full display from play one in Buffalo. Andy Dalton hit John Ross on a 57-yard TD, which was the first time we have seen Ross’ skill set that he showed off at the University of Washington. He certainly can do things few other guys in the league can. AJ is AJ and Tyler Boyd is going to be a first down machine. Malone has the fourth spot on lock, while Erickson is still their go-to return guy. Auden Tate is close to a lock with his rare combination of height and body control. There is no chance he makes it through to the practice squad. Cody Core is the odd man out. His chances weren’t great as Tate showed out in camp and then they really took a hit when he got hurt.

Cut: Cody Core, Kermit Whitfield, Ka’Raun White, Devonte Boyd, Kayuane Ross, Jared Murphy

TE (3): Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, CJ Uzomah

The tight-end room is set. Eifert is healthy and got his first action since Week 2 last season on Sunday. The team can only hope that they get 8 games from him. Kroft and Uzomah are experienced and talented enough to fill in if (and when) he does go down. Mason Schreck has some potential with his size, and a great candidate for the practice squad for the 2nd straight season.

Cut: Mason Schreck, Moritz Bohringer

OT (4): Cordy Glenn, Bobby Hart, Cedric Ogbuehi, Jake Fisher

It may not be pretty, but this is the group that will be responsible for keeping Andy Dalton from the vaunted edge rushers. Yikes.

Cut: Justin Murray, Kent Perkins

OG (4): Clint Boling, Alex Redmond, Christian Westerman, Trey Hopkins

Boling is the starter on the left side. The right side is much more up in the air. Hopkins, the opening day starter from a year ago, started the first two games, but Redmond started in Buffalo. It didn’t go so well. Who knows which of the three will be their in Indianapolis in 12 days.

Cut: Cory Helms

OC (1): Billy Price

The Bengals first round pick will be snapping to Andy Dalton from day one. He has yet to allow a pressure on 59 passing plays in the preseason.

Cut: TJ Johnson, Brad Lundblade

DEFENSE (25)

DE (5): Carlos Dunlap, Carl Lawson, Michael Johnson, Jordan Willis, Sam Hubbard

All five defensive ends are going to be on the 53-man, and they are all going to play. This group has the potential to be part of one of the best DLs in football. Just watch the first half of Sunday’s game.

Cut: None

DT (4): Geno Atkins, Andrew Billings, Ryan Glasgow, Josh Tupou

The star of the preseason, Andrew Billings, is the perfect guy to play next to Geno Atkins. Billings can be a big-time run stopper, and has shown some unreal pass rushing ability. He is finally back from his knee injury before his rookie year, and ready to go. Glasgow is a great rotational piece as well. Andrew Brown, the 5th round pick from this year, has battled injury all preseason, probably costing him a spot. Josh Tupou fits the profile of a 4-3 nose tackle, however he will most likely be inactive on game days if he makes it.

Cut: Andrew Brown, Eddy Wilson, Simeyon Robinson, Chris Okoye

LB (6): Preston Brown, Nick Vigil, Jordan Evans, Malik Jefferson, Vincent Rey, Hardy Nickerson

With Burfict suspended, the Bengals have the decision to go thin at linebacker, but Nickerson got some experience last season. He can at least be on the team the first four weeks. Junior Joseph and Chris Worley are potential practice squad guys.

Suspended: Vontaze Burfict

Cut: Junior Joseph, Chris Worley, Brandon Bell

CB (5): Will Jackson III, Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, Keivaire Russell, Devontae Harris

While the starters are set and solid, the depth behind those three is extremely below average. Russell hasn’t been able to live up to third round expectation since getting cut by the Chiefs before his rookie season begin, he is the next best one. Devontae Harris is the better of the two rookies, even though Darrius Phillips has shown electricity on special teams.

Cut: Tony McRae, Darrius Phillips, Sojourney Shelton, CJ Goodwin

S (5): Shawn Williams, Jesse Bates III, Clayton Fejedelem, Josh Shaw, Brandon Wilson

Two weeks ago, I didn’t see Shaw making it, despite his versatility and experience. But, with the release of Iloka, he is now a lock to add depth with Fejedelem. Brandon Wilson, like Shaw, can play both corner and safety, as well as add talent on special teams.

Cut: Trayvon Henderson, Ty Beverette

SPECIALISTS (3)

K (1): Randy Bullock

Despite the excitement of Jonathan Brown, there is no competition.

Cut: Jonathan Brown

Punter (1): Kevin Huber

LS (1): Clark Harris

Practice Squad (11): Logan Woodside, Jarveon Williams, Kermit Whitfield, Mason Schreck, Moritz Bohringer, Kent Perkins, Andrew Brown, Junior Joseph, Chris Worley, Darrius Phillips, Trayvon Henderson

Projected 53-Man Roster – 8/7

Preseason begins in just over 48 hours, which means the first depth chart was just released. The Bengals first one had a few surprises, and some other aspects that will make fans upset when they don’t realize the setup. Carl Lawson might be listed as 3rd-string RDE, but he will be on the field on the high majority of 2nd and 3rd downs. John Ross and Darqueze Dennard are listed as backups, but the majority of snaps in the NFL are not in base formations, but rather 3+ WR sets. Ross will be on the outside (Boyd in the slot), and Dennard will be the slot CB. The biggest surprise is at RT. Bobby Hart, the cast off of the putrid New York Giants O-line is currently the starter with Cedric Ogbuehi backing him up. Not a good sign for Jake Fisher, the projected starter coming into camp.

Bold = Lock

Quarterback (2): Andy Dalton, Matt Barkley

In a perfect world, the Bengals would be able to keep three quarterbacks, but I don’t see that happening this year with the young talent at other positions. Technically, the backup is still up for grabs, as Matt Barkley, signed in the offseason, and Jeff Driskel duke it out. The club has gone above and beyond to keep Driskel on the active roster over the pass couple seasons, but Barkley has more experience. Regardless, if Andy goes down, the team is not going to win.

Cut: Jeff Driskel, Logan Woodside

Runningback (4): Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Mark Walton, Jr., Ryan Hewitt

Mixon took over the starting role and is a vital piece to the potential success of the group. Gio is right next to Mixon in the room and will still play plenty throughout the year. Rookie Mark Walton has similarities to Bernard in both style of play and size. He will contribute on special teams and in spots on offense. The one guy who’s spot is still up in the air is Ryan Hewitt. The Bengals did not use a fullback much at all with Ken Zampese and if Lazor plans on using him more often, he will be the guy. However, Cethan Carter could still beat him out.

Cut: Tra Carson, Brian Hill, Jarveon Williams, Quinton Flowers, Ray Lawry

Wide Receiver (7): A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, Josh Malone, Cody Core, Alex Erickson, Auden Tate

Mike Brown and co. clearly have a ton of confidence in the young guns of the wide receiver group. Brandon LaFell was let go last week, leaving AJ Green as the only one with more than 2 years of experience. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross and Josh Malone will be the top four. Their spots are locked. As for Cody Core, Erickson, and Tate, it will depend on how many receivers they decide to keep. If they keep seven like they did a year ago, they will be the final three. With Burfict suspended, I think his final spot will go to keep all of them. Core and Erickson provide a ton of value on special teams and Tate can do things with his size that others can’t. If there was any belief that he could spend the year on the practice squad, they would do that. However, with the way he has performed in camp, there is no chance that is happening.

Cut: Kermit Whitfield, Ka’Raun White, Kayuane Ross, Devonte Boyd, Jared Murphy

Tight Ends (3): Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, C.J. Uzomah

The room is set unless they keep a fourth with Eifert’s health always in jeopardy. If this is the case, Cethan Carter, who is listed as an H-back on the depth chart would be the most likely candidate. Mason Schreck is a practice squad candidate.

Cut: Mason Schreck, Jordan Franks, Moritz Boehringer

Offensive Line (10): Cordy Glenn, Clint Boling, Billy Price, Trey Hopkins, Alex Redmond, T.J. Johnson, Bobby Hart, Cedric Ogbuehi, Jake Fisher

The decisions on the offensive line will be the storyline come cut day, as the club is still trying to recover from losing key veterans (Whitworth and Zeitler) and poor drafting (Ogbuehi and Fisher). The trade for Cordy Glenn and subsequent drafting of Billy Price cements starters in 3 of the 5 spots. The right side of the line is still the most worrisome part of the team. Trey Hopkins and Alex Redmond are competing to for the starting spot, and they both should be on the final 53. Westerman had a ton of momentum at the end of last season, but he got food poisoning right before camp and lost a ton of weight. It will take him longer to truly be ready for real football. TJ Johnson is a lock to make it as the backup to Price, and may be needed more than anyone thought if Price’s snap problems persist. As for right tackle, it is a battle between Bobby Hart, Ogbuehi, and Fisher. I do believe all three end up on the roster with Hart being the leader in the clubhouse right now.

Cut: Justin Murray, Austin Fleer, Kent Perkins, Cory Helms, Brad Lundblade

Defensive Line (9): Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Andrew Billings, Carl Lawson, Jordan Willis, Sam Hubbard, Ryan Glasgow, Michael Johnson, Chris Baker

No position group on the roster has as much depth as the defensive line. In my opinion, I do not believe there is much wiggle room as to who is going to make it. Dunlap, Atkins, Billings, and Lawson will play the most snaps. Hubbard and Willis will rotate on the outside, while Glasgow and Baker will rotate on the inside. Michael Johnson is in a different position. While many believe he should be let go to provide more opportunities for the young guys, Johnson proved he can be of most value when moving inside on 3rd downs. The fact that he is listed as the starter on the first depth chart tells me he isn’t in jeopardy. This won’t be a Brandon LaFell-type situation. If I had to pick the one guy who could get left out, it would be Chris Baker, who was signed to a two-year deal this offseason. Rookie Andrew Brown was picked in the fifth round in the draft, but the team has proved that doesn’t mean you are a shoe-in to make it. If he shows out in the preseason, he would be an easy addition.

Cut: Andrew Brown, Josh Tupou, Eddy Wilson, Josh Okoye

Linebackers (5): Preston Brown, Nick Vigil, Vincent Rey, Malik Jefferson, Jordan Evans

Suspended (1): Vontaze Burfict

With Burfict suspended for the first four games, he does not count towards the 53-man roster. With that being said, I do not think that they will use that spot on an additional backer. The five guys that are locks will be the only ones to make it. Brown, Vigil, and Rey will be the ones playing the most through the first month. Evans will play some on passing downs, and both him and Jefferson will be keys on special teams. If they decide to keep another, Hardy Nickerson is the obvious choice.

Cut: Hardy Nickerson, Brandon Bell, Chris Worley, Junior Joseph

Defensiveback (10): William Jackson III, Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, KeiVarae Russell, George Iloka, Shawn Williams, Clayton Fejedelem, Jesse Bates III, Devontae Harris, Darrius Phillips

Eight defensive backs have cemented their spot on the team. WJ3, Dre, and Dennard will be the corners, while Iloka and Williams will be the guys on the back end. Russell will be trusted much more than the others as the fourth corner, while rookie Jesse Bates has the versatility to help at both safety and slot corner. Clayton Fejedelem is as good as they have on special teams. This leaves one or two possible spots. Devontae Harris and Darius Phillips were both picked in the fifth round and have the early lead. Harris is more reliable on the defensive side of the ball, where Phillips is much less consistent. Phillips brings more valuable on special teams, but he has even been shaky there in camp. I could easily see him being a practice squad guy.

Cut: Josh Shaw, C.J. Goodwin, Tony McRae, Brandon Wilson, Tyrice Beverette, Trayvon Henderson

Specialists (3): Randy Bullock, Kevin Huber, Clark Harris

Randy Bullock is the only one of the three with competition in camp, but Bullock was so steady last season, I don’t see any change.

Cut: Jonathan Brown

Practice Squad: Logan Woodside, Jarveon Williams, Kermit Whitfield, Mason Schreck, Kent Perkins, Justin Murray, Andrew Brown, Josh Tupou, Junior Joseph, Brandon Wilson

Other PS candidates: Chris Worley, Quinton Flowers, Ka’Raun White, Jordan Franks, Cory Helms, Eddy Wilson, Trayvon Henderson

 

Where the Bengals can go in Round 1

Draft night is 10 days away. Who Dey Nation is going to have to wait a little longer than we thought after the trade for Cordy Glenn, but it opens up the possibilities of who could be walking across the stage wearing the “Who Dey” Draft hat.

Offensive Options

QB: Lamar Jackson, Louisville. No I don’t think he is an actual option, but he would be my pick if he was there. I love Lamar. I think he is going to be a superstar and would be the most excited person in the world if he ended up in the stripes. However, there are a few reasons it won’t happen. One, he won’t be there. I don’t see Jackson making it into the 20s. The Dolphins, Bills, Cardinals, Ravens, and Chargers all pick in the 11-20 range with possible need at the most important position. One of these teams seems the most likely. Two, Andy Dalton is the guy, and I do love Andy. His contract is essentially year to year, so they could play it like the Chiefs did last year, It is not going to happen, but he would be my pick.

RB/WR/TE: Not going to happen.

OT: Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame/Conor Williams, Texas/Kolton Miller, UCLA. It seems as if McGlinchey is the top rated tackle and if he is there, I believe the Bengals need to take him. He doesn’t make you super excited, but really, what offensive lineman does. The more and more the process moves along, the more I see Williams being a NFL guard and I’ll discuss my problems on that below. Miller is the rising talent of the class, and some see him pushing McGlinchey as the top option.

OG: Will Hernandez, UTEP/Isaiah Wynn, Georgia. Don’t get me wrong, I really like both Hernandez and Wynn. Hernandez has a nasty to him and can really help the run game, while Wynn is solid all-around, and comes from Georgia. And us Bengals fans know we like those Bulldogs. But, I will be the most disappointed if they use their top pick on a guard. No matter who it is (except Quentin Nelson, duh). Back in 2012, Kevin Zeitler was picked in the back half of the first round. He was a really good player for 5 years. And understandably so, the Bengals did not resign him last offseason. He was given the biggest contract in NFL history for a guard. I want a guy that the Bengals will invest in. I am not saying they should have paid Zeitler. But if five years from now, there first round pick is one of the best at their position, I would like for the front office to extend the contract. This won’t happen if that guy is Hernandez or Wynn. Secondly, guard is the least of the worries of the three spots. Right tackle and center are bigger problems in my opinion.

OC: James Daniels, Iowa. Some will add Billy Price here, but I don’t see the Bengals picking someone who has the possibility of not being available for the offseason work (tore his pec at the combine). Daniels is only 20, and the top center in the draft. Much like Hernandez above, he has a nastiness to him that will improve the run game from day one. After suffering through four years of Russell Bodine’s mediocrity, this would be a bif time change. If the Bengals feel like they can pick Price or Frank Ragnow in round two, they may refrain from selecting Daniels.

Defensive Options

DL: Vita Vea, Washington/Marcus Davenport, UTSA/Harold Landry, BC. The biggest weakness along the defensive line is the run stuffing tackle to play along side Geno in the middle. They have Andrew Billings and Ryan Glasgow on the roster, each who have been drafted in the fourth round over the last two seasons, but the jury is still out on whether or not they can be a consistent factor. Vea is a freak and would be an ideal fit. I just don’t imagine him being available at 21. If the club doesn’t see being able to resign Dunlap after next year, the edge rusher to pair with Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson could be on the table. Marcus Davenport is the unknown riser on the defensive side in this draft, while Landry’s stock have dropped after a subpar season.

LB: Rashaan Evans, Alabama/Leighton Vander Esch, Boise St. There is no doubt that linebacker is a big need on this team. Even with Burfict out there, they still suffer on passing downs. Preston Brown will fill the Kevin Minter role in base packages, but is Nick Vigil a viable every down backer? Last year, he wasn’t. Injuries may have something to do with that, but he may just be average. I believe they need to draft to replace Burfict, with his unreliability showing its ugly face once again with the four game suspension. Evans is the name from Alabama, but Vander Esch is a much better fit. He’s big and athletic, and can develop into a three-down guy.

DB: Jaire Alexander, Louisville/Josh Jackson, Iowa/Justin Reid, Stanford. Surely, they won’t take another corner in the first round, right? They have taken one in 2012, 2014 and 2016, so it is time again! William Jackson is a budding superstar, and Dennard excelled when he was able to stay in the slot. Although Kirkpatrick got the big contract, he is the weak link. It wouldn’t shock me if they took Jaire Alexander to groom him to play on the outside with Jackson. With that being said, Safety is the bigger weakness. New defensive coordinator Teryl Austin likes to play three safeties at times and the team has been active trying to find one in free agency. Eric Reid seemed like a logical fit, but we all know how that went. His younger brother, Justin, is the most likely guy at the position to take at the Bengals spot. Will they do that, though?

The prediction: When it is all said and done, I think they are able to tackle their biggest need, the offensive line. It is my hope that McGlinchey is there, but I think James Daniels will be. And the Bengals plug in the 20-year old to be the starter from day one.