Tag Archives: NFL

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.

 

CoB’s Week 1 Picks

Let’s get things rolling as the greatest sport on Earth is back!

Thursday Night Football

Kansas City @ New England (-9) (O/U 48.5) – The last time these two teams played in a season opener, Tom Brady tore his ACL and the Pats missed the playoffs for the only time in the Brady-Belichick era. Brady is also on the cover of Madden!! Uh oh! This, combined with Andy Reid’s success with extra time to prepare, doesn’t bode well for the Pats, right? Wrong. Gillette will be rocking, Brady will be Brady, and the Chiefs will have to right the ship after suffering a week one loss. New England 28-20.

Sunday Early Games

New York Jets @ Buffalo (-9) (O/U 40) – There is a decent chance these two teams will be picking quarterbacks in the top five of the 2018 NFL draft, but since they are playing each other, one of them has to win. New York’s offense is going to be historically bad and the Bills know this is their easiest game. LeSean McCoy leads the way to victory. Buffalo 21-10.

Atlanta (-7) @ Chicago (O/U 48.5) – The Super Bowl hangover is upon us! Well, not yet at least. The Bears are going to start the season with Mike Glennon and even at home, they won’t have enough offense to keep up with the Falcons. Even though Kyle Shanahan is gone, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones start the season off right in a big way. Atlanta 34-20.

Jacksonville @ Houston (-5.5) (O/U 39.5) – Hook, line, sinker. The Texans have approximately a 0.1% chance to lose this game. The energy in that stadium with the city coming together after Hurricane Harvey is going to be insane. J.J. Watt and the defense is going to make life miserable for Blake Bortles and company. Houston 23-9.

Philadelphia (-1) @ Washington (O/U 47.5) – The two teams, sort of, forgotten about in the NFC East these days. With all eyes on the battle Sunday night between the other two teams, this one should be just as interesting. Kirk Cousins starts what could be his last year in DC, while the vaunted Philly front seven comes to town. Look for both teams to take chances, but the home team, supported by a great performance from the offensive line, takes the win. Washington 24-23.

Arizona (-2) @ Detroit (O/U 48) – Does Carson Palmer have anything left in the arm? If he does, he should be able to put it on full display in Detroit. In what is going to be an offensive shootout, Stafford outduels Palmer on the final drive to win. Detroit 31-27.

Oakland @ Tennessee (-2.5) (O/U 50.5) – I think this is the most exciting game of the week! Two young teams with tons of talent. Two QBs who are placing themselves among the top 10 in football. Mariota and Tennessee’s offense becomes their best defense as they control the ball with the run game. Tennessee escapes. Tennessee 28-26.

Baltimore @ Cincinnati (-3) (O/U 42.5) – Cincinnati will be playing without Pacman Jones and Vontaze Burfict due to suspensions, but the Ravens have already lost 10 players for the year. On top of that, Joe Flacco didn’t play all of the preseason with a back injury, therefore, his mobility is going to be minimal. Look for the Bengals youth-infused pass-rush to get after Flacco and lead the Bengals to a win in their first home opener since 2009. Cincinnati 23-17.

Pittsburgh (-9) @ Cleveland (O/U 46.5) – Cleveland is going to be better in year two under Hue Jackson. They had a great offseason and things are finally starting to look up. They won’t start right away though. The Steelers will win, but it will be closer than it should. Le’Veon Bell won’t get a full workload with less than a week of practice and Martavis Bryant will need to shake off some regular season rust after missing all of last season. Pittsburgh 27-20.

Sunday Late Games

Indianapolis @ Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) (O/U 41.5) – No spread has shifted since the lines first came out as much as this one. What was once a 3.5 point advantage for the Colts has now become 3.5 point advantage for the Rams. This has everything to do with Andrew Luck missing the game, which leaves Scott Tolzien at the helm. LA’s defense should be able to get after Tolzien all game and get the Rams off on the right step under Sean McVay. Los Angeles 17-13.

Seattle @ Green Bay (-3) (O/U 51) – In what could be a preview of the NFC Championship, the national game on Fox figures to give people their money’s worth as the Seahawks travel to Green Bay. The Packers always seem to start slow, but I think Aaron Rodgers has something to prove this season. Watch out NFC. Green Bay 28-24.

Carolina (-5) @ San Francisco (O/U 47.5) – Traveling across the country with a less than 100% Cam Newton isn’t the greatest recipe to start 1-0. However, they do get the 49ers and first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan. Don’t be surprised to see this one going down to the wire, as the 49ers will be competitive all year long. Cam makes just enough plays. Carolina 23-21.

Sunday Night Football

New York Giants @ Dallas (-4.5) (O/U 47.5) – I made my picks for the season yesterday, and I usually stick with my week one selections. However, due to the recent news of Ezekiel Elliott being able to play and Odell Beckham being up in the air, the result switches on this one. With the next six games in doubt, Zeke runs wild. Dallas 30-19.

Monday Night Football

New Orleans @ Minnesota (-3) (O/U 48) – Adrian Peterson heads back to Minnesota in week one! On Monday Night Football! The NFL loves their storylines. A New Orleans win would make a great ending, but Minnesota is just better. That defense is legit. Something that cannot be said for New Orleans. Minnesota 24-20.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Denver (-3.5) (O/U 43) – The final game of week one will give us the best QB-defense matchup of the weekend. Rivers has his weapons healthy, with the exception of Mike Williams, to head into Denver to face the elite defense of the NFL. It is going to be a chess match all game that ends in the road dog taking the game in the UPSET OF THE WEEK! Los Angeles 20-16.

 

Lock of the week:

Houston (-5) over Jacksonville

Other Best Bets:

Under 40 in NYJ-BUF

Over 48 in ARI-DET

SF (+5) vs. CAR

*Tampa Bay and Miami has been canceled and moved to Week 11 due to Hurricane Irma.

*Betting lines are used for those placing wagers legally in Vegas.

One Bold Prediction for all 32 NFL Teams

Bold predictions are common among this time of year but don’t get these confused that these are things that I believe will happen or have a high likelihood of happening. There is a reason they are BOLD predictions. That is not to say that there is absolutely no chance of them occurring. Here is a list of bold predictions for each team.

Arizona Cardinals – David Johnson breaks the single season yards from scrimmage record set by Chris Johnson in 2009 by running for 1600 yards and adding on another 950 yards receiving.

Atlanta Falcons – The offense cannot take the loss of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as they fail to put up the numbers they did a season ago. Matt Ryan and co. take a similar step back to the 2016 Bengals when they lost OC Hue Jackson.

Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco rushes back from his back injury and it proves to be costly. Ryan Mallett struggles when they turn to him, which causes the Ravens to sign Colin Kaepernick.

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.

Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton recaptures his magic from 2015 and runs for 7 touchdowns on his way to a top-3 fantasy season, only behind Rodgers and Brady.

Chicago Bears – Mike Glennon makes it through 3 games before being benched for Mitch Trubisky, who shows everyone why the Bears grabbed their franchise QB.

Cincinnati Bengals – Even with stars A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, rookie Joe Mixon leads the team in touchdowns taking control of the backfield early on in the season.

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.

Dallas Cowboys – Ezekiel Elliott suspension is not reduced and Dak tries to do too much during that span leading to a sophomore slump. The Cowboys start the season 2-4 and Dak never fully gets back his confidence as the Cowboys fail to build on last season’s success.

Denver Broncos – The highly-touted defense starts to look old and cannot continue to win games with a bad offense. The Broncos falter under first-year head coach Vance Joseph and finish last in the AFC West.

Detroit Lions – The Matt Stafford contract is a conversation all year as the offense struggles more than expected. Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick cannot get a consistent run game going and the Lions fail to get above .500.

Green Bay Packers – The Packers top running back is one playing the position at this level for the first time for a full season. It is not Ty Montgomery. Jamaal Williams becomes the darling rookie of the draft giving the Packers the running game they need to help Aaron Rodgers and more importantly, their defense.

Houston Texans – Tom Savage starts the year, struggles, which leads to the arrival of Deshawn Watson. Watson puts on his best Dak Prescott impersonation and leads the Texans to a division title despite starting 2-5.

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.

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.

Los Angeles Chargers – Playing in front of 30,000 in year one in LA, the Chargers unlikely stadium proves to be a huge home-field advantage as they finish the season 8-0 at home.

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.

Miami Dolphins – DeVante Parker becomes the latest third-year wide receiver to break out. With Jay Cutler throwing the ball, Parker is force fed every game leading to an 80 catch, 1,100-yard season.

Minnesota Vikings – Last year Sam Bradford broke the NFL record for completion percentage in a season. In year two, he does it again, completing over 72% of his passes despite not gaining a playoff berth, which leads to the firing of Mike Zimmer, who heads back to Cincy to become the Head Coach.

New England Patriots – Julian Edelman who? Brandin Cooks has a monster first year in NE and becomes a top-6 fantasy wideout catching passes from the greatest to ever do it.

New Orleans Saints – Even with two bonafide NFL backs ahead of him, Alvin Kamara leads all running backs to catches.

New York Giants – The Giants have put so much money into their defense and it pays off. The secondary becomes Legion of Boom like and they finish as the top fantasy defense.

New York Jets – Josh McCown gets hurt, and Christian Hackenberg is forced into significant playing time, which leads the Jets to the 2nd 0-16 season in NFL history.

Oakland Raiders – The Raiders 2016 season proves to be an outlier and their defense cannot stop anyone. Derek Carr takes a step back as the Raiders go back to their losing ways.

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.

Pittsburgh Steelers – With Martavis Bryant back, Antonio Brown sees less double teams and breaks Marvin Harrison’s record for catches in a season with 145.

San Francisco 49ers – Brian Hoyer becomes a solid option a QB and the defense plays way above expectations to a top-12 fantasy option. The Niners are out of reach of the top QBs in the draft, but Kyle Shanahan convinces Kirk Cousins to come to the Bay.

Seattle Seahawks – Eddie Lacy may still look big and fat, but the one-time star in Green Bay runs over the NFC on his way to an RB1 season.

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.

Tennessee Titans – DeMarco Murray becomes the latest RB to hit the 29-year-old wall and gets hurt. Derrick Henry becomes the starter and leads the league in yards over the 2nd half of the year.

Washington Redskins – Kirk Cousins continues to shove it in the face of Dan Snyder and the rest of the Redskin front office by playing his best year of football yet. He finishes top five in the MVP race, but due to the strained relationship, leaves for former coordinator Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. You like that!?

Final 53-Man Roster Prediction

It is about that time. In the past, teams have cut down to 75 at this point in the season, but with the new change to one cut down day, rosters can still have up to 90 players. Most teams, including the Bengals, are not at the maximum of 90 heading into Thursday’s preseason finale, as the cuts have slowly begun. The Bengals reserves will take the field in Indy, as the starters rest up for the opener against the Ravens on September 10th. My previous 53-man projection came before their 2nd preseason game, and while on-field performance has solidified many spots, the suspension of Vontaze Burfict may be the biggest shakeup on the original 53-man roster.

Bold = Lock to make it

hi-res-cfac7dac29875c80630277bd999bece2_crop_northQB (3): Andy Dalton, A.J. McCarron, Jeff Driskel

Cuts: NONE

While Dalton looked sharped in the tune-up before the regular season in Washington, A.J. McCarron has done himself, and the organization, with his play during the preseason. He struggled again, which leaves his him 20-36 for 224 yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions. Andy Dalton HAS to stay healthy. Driskel is the wildcard here, as he has been all off-season. If the team can make it work, they will keep him, as they did last year, with the expectation that he is the backup when A.J. leaves.

064d79430b4ad7712123e454eb613a63_crop_exactRB (5): Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard, Joe Mixon (R-2), Ryan Hewitt, Tra Carson

Cuts: Cedric Peerman, Jarveon Williams (R-UDFA), Darrin Laufasa (R-UDFA)

As it has been all preseason, Hill, Bernard, and Mixon are locks and will split time in the backfield, each with their own role. Hill is the “starter” and short yardage guy, Bernard is the third-down/passing down guy, and Mixon is the every other part of the game guy. Mixon should lead the backfield in snaps and touches. He is going to be special. One of my predictions for this season is the Ryan Hewitt will be used much more than he was a season ago. Lastly, the injury to Ced Peerman and the performance of Tra Carson puts Carson on the final 53.

usa_today_9678298.0WR (7): A.J. Green, Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd, John Ross (R-1), Cody Core, Josh Malone (R-4), Alex Erickson

Cuts: Chris Brown, Alonzo Russell, Kermit Whitfield (R-UDFA)

Seven receivers. Seems a little much, but it is necessary. They are locked in with Erickson sealing his spot with a playmaking-filled preseason. I believe Whitfield is the most likely candidate for the practice squad.

usa-today-8905361.0.jpgTE (3): Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, C.J. Uzomah

Cuts: Cethan Carter (R-UDFA), Mason Schrenk (R-7)

For the fourth consecutive season, the Bengals will head into the season with the same three tight ends. Eifert was held out of the game on Sunday due to “a little tendonitis” in his knee and hopefully, it was just precautionary. After A.J. and Andy, Eifert is the next most important piece to the puzzle. Tyler Kroft will be the #2, regardless of the injury to Uzomah. If his injury proves to be more serious than originally thought, his spot could be used on Carter or an extra defensive player.

GettyImages-489333624.0OL (9): Cedric Ogbuehi, Clint Boling, Russell Bodine, Trey Hopkins, Jake Fisher, T.J. Johnson, Andre Smith, Christian Westerman, Eric Winston

Cuts: J.J. Dielman (R-5), Cameron Lee (R-UDFA), Alex Redmond, Dustin Stanton, Landon Lechler (U-UDFA), Kent Perkins

While concerning, the top 7 of the offensive line rotation are set. The first five listed will be the starters, with Hopkins being the surprise of the camp. T.J. Johnson and Andre Smith will be the first two off the bench if an injury or poor play occurs. Christian Westerman is as close to a lock of anyone on the bubble at this point. The team felt like they got him for great value in the 5th round last season and would like to keep him around to continue to develop. The last spot is completely up for grabs. My guess is Winston gets it due to experience and his ability to play on the outside, but I could see it going to Alex Redmond or J.J. Dielman.

r247009_576x324_16-9DL (8): Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Pat Sims, Jordan Willis (R-3), Chris Smith, Andrew Billings, Ryan Glasgow (R-4), Michael Johnson

Cuts: David Dean, Josh Tupou (R-UDFA), DeShawn Williams, Ryan Brown, Will Clarke, Wallace Gilberry

After the preseason, the defensive line may be the most exciting position group of them all. We know what Dunlap and Atkins can do, and we have seen now, the potential of Willis and Smith. Jordan Willis had a strip sack of Colt McCoy, giving him a sack in each of the three games, which is exactly what Chris Smith has done as well. However, his sack came against Trent Williams, one of the best LTs in football. I am still not sold on Michael Johnson, but I struggle to find someone to take his spot. Johnson did get some pressure playing inside on a third down, which was the first positive from him so far. Gilberry is versatile and Williams has promise, but I think the things Michael Johnson can teach the young guys will be what wins him his spot.

hi-res-9b3846107a1151cf4aa4cca7ffc95c25_crop_exactLB (6): Nick Vigil, Kevin Minter, Vinny Rey, Carl Lawson (R-4), Jordan Evans (R-6), Hardy Nickerson (R-UDFA)

Cuts: P.J. Dawson, Brandon Bell (R-UDFA), Bryson Albright

The suspension of Vontaze Burfict has thrown a wrench into the Bengals season. The club had a solid six that were all locks to make the team. Now, a spot is open. The experience of Marquis Flowers gives him the spot, as this guy will really need to be the next available backer got him traded. Rookie Hardy Nickerson has impressed in preseason and is always one of the first backers off the bench and will take the open spot. Vinny Rey will step into a starting role with Minter and Vigil giving the Bengals three new starters than what they put out there for the majority of last season. Carl Lawson probably won’t see much time as a backer, but will be a key in nickel packages as an edge rusher.

r246493_576x324_16-9DB (9): Dre Kirkpatrick, William Jackson III, Darqueze Dennard, Josh Shaw, George Iloka, Shawn Williams, Clayton Fejedelem, Derron Smith, KeiVarae Russell

Cuts: Bene Benwikere, Tony McRae, Demetrious Cox (R-UDFA)

Adam Jones is suspended for the first game of the season, so he does not count against the original 53, however, it just means someone’s spot will be short lived barring another injury over the next two weeks. That guy is probably KeiVarae Russell. Josh Shaw is now a needed commodity due to the injuries to Iloka and Williams. Iloka should be ready to go week one, and Shawn Williams avoided a huge scare and should be back within the first 6 weeks.

630507806.0Specialist (3): Kevin Huber, Clark Harris, Randy Bullock

Cuts: Jake Elliott (R-5)

In what may be the toughest cut of them all, I keep going back and forth on who is going to be the kicker. Bullock has been better both in practice, and now with the most recent in-game miss, and games than Elliott. However, Elliott not only is better on kickoffs, he is a 5th round rookie. I would hate for them to give up so quickly, but this season is going to involve a ton of close games where making your field goals is going to be crucial. I do believe that whoever they end up cutting will be kicking somewhere this season.

Suspended: Adam Jones (1), Vontaze Burfict (5)

NFI: Brandon Wilson (R-6)

Last 3 guys to make it: Hardy Nickerson, Randy Bullock, and Jeff Driskel

Last 3 guys cut: Cedric Peerman, Bene Benwikere, and Jake Elliott

 

Even with past, does Vontaze Burfict deserve 5 game suspension?

Was it violent? Yes

Was it forceful? Yes

Was it unnecessary? Yes

Was it a penalty? No

Was it illegal? From the video seen, no!

There is no denying that Vontaze Burfict’s on-field reputation as one of the league’s dirtiest players is warranted. Far too often, he is involved in illegal hits and after the whistle activity. Over the first five years in the league, Burfict has been flagged 16 times for unnecessary roughness, suspended 3 games, and fined over $800,000. After being suspended for those three games to start last season following his playoff hit on Antonio Brown, he played under control and dominated football games in the last half of the season. He received just one personal foul and two flags total over his 11 games played. It looked like he turned a corner.

Early this morning, Adam Schefter reported that Burfict was facing a 5 game suspension to start the season for a hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman in week two of the preseason. This would be a massive blow to a Bengals defense that is led by the playmaking of Burfict. Anytime a team loses your best player on that side of the ball, it is going to hurt. Past instances where Burfict has missed time has proven that to be especially true of Burfict and the Bengals.

However, the real question with this latest instance is whether that hit was even illegal. You can see the hit here which was posted by @LacesOrFaces on twitter.

The NFL updated the wording on defenseless receivers this offseason. Now included are these three things:

  1. Give a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection when a defender approaches from behind or the side.
  2. Forcible contact to the head or neck area or with the crown of the helmet. Once the receiver becomes a blocker, or assumes a blocking posture, he no longer has defenseless player protection.
  3. Launching fouls when a defender leaves both feet before making forcible contact with any part of his helmet to any part of a defenseless player’s body.

Does the hit on Sherman violate any of these three things?

  1. Burfict comes straight in to hit Sherman. It is clearly not from the side or back. While the hit may look “blindsided,” that is only the case because Sherman is not looking straight ahead, but rather back at the quarterback. Legal.
  2. While it may be possible that there is another angle that shows Burfict either hitting the head or neck area of Sherman, it looks clear to me that he is hit in the chest. On top of that, Burfict, without a doubt, leads and hits with his shoulder. All legal.
  3. Burfict may leave his feet slightly, but hits with his shoulder, not his helmet. Therefore, legal.

If these are the three rules that the NFL is using to justify the suspension, they are mistaken. The hit did not violate any of them.

I completely understand the NFL being harder on repeat offenders, especially Vontaze Burfict. However, even with the rule change, this hit does not warrant a flag (which it did not receive), let alone a suspension. If they are trying to prove a point, this is not the right spot to do it. Does he deserve the benefit of the doubt? No, absolutely not. Does he deserve to get a fair outcome? Absolutely. While he will always be under more scrutiny and a closer eye, the NFL cannot pick and choose which players get punished.

The Bengals issued a statement this morning, stating “The film shows that the hit was legal, that Vontaze engaged his opponent from the front, and that contact was shoulder-to-chest. The Club will support Vontaze in the appeal process.” Not only will the club back him, I have to imagine that the NFLPA will put up a fight is well. This is a slippery slope for suspensions. While the officials cannot see everything, this occurred in the middle of the field and was not flagged. Suspending a player for FIVE GAMES on a non-penalized hit is extreme, regardless of the player and their past. I have a hard time believing that the suspension will hold up completely. He may get a few games, but I would be shocked, and appalled, if the NFL decided to keep the entire length of the suspension.

5 things that would make Sunday a success

It’s the regular season dress rehearsal. Preseason game #3 used to be the game where teams would play their starters into the second half. If Thursday night is any indication of things to come, the Bengals starters will be taken out sometime during quarter number two. It is my belief that the offensive line will play the entire half, while stars, such as A.J. Green, Vontaze Burfict, Geno Atkins, and Andy Dalton, will be out after a few series. The risk of injury is too high for veterans during these games. However, here a five things that would make Sunday afternoon’s affair with the Redskins a success:

  1. No more injuries – This is always at the top of the list. George Iloka and Shawn Williams have already suffered injuries in camp and preseason, respectively. While deep in some position groups, the Bengals cannot afford to lose any more starters. This is a team that is going to be in a lot of close games, where having your best out there is imperative.
  2. The offense finishes a drive in the endzone – Moving the ball has not been an issue for the first team offense. Led by Dalton, they have gotten into the scoring position on three of the four drives they have played together. However, two have resulted in made field goals and the other ended with a turnover. Redzone struggles killed this group a year ago, but much of that is to blame on the losses of Tyler Eifert and A.J. Green. Their skill players are healthy and there is no reason, with the abundance of options, they shouldn’t be putting the ball into the endzone.
  3. The defense gets off the field quickly – The Bengals seem to have always relied on a bend-but-don’t-break philosophy on defense. The lack of stops so far though, are almost starting to be concerning. The Redskins project to have a top-10 offense and getting off the field and maintaining field position will be a huge momentum boost heading into the games that matter.
  4. John Ross makes his debut – The final decision hasn’t been made, but this could be the weekend that we see the speedster from Washington make his debut. He has been practicing full-go for over a week, and the time seems right. There has not been this much excitement and anticipation to see a rookie play since the team drafted Green and Dalton six years ago. Hopefully, we will get to see some explosiveness from #15 on Sunday.
  5. The O-Line continues to make progress – They won’t be great, but they don’t have to be for this offense to have a good year. The revamped offensive line has been much of the talk this summer and for many, the reason why the Bengals won’t get back to playoff contention. However, through two weeks of the preseason, they have looked average. And with the weapons around them, that should be all they need to be. If they can build off that and hold their own again, some optimism may strike through the fanbase and nay-sayers.

The season is almost here, and this will be the last time we see the starting 22 until Baltimore comes to town in two weeks. Let’s pray for a injury-free afternoon as our Bengals battle the Redskins.