It's that time. Prognostications by prognosticators of varying levels of credibility begin for the upcoming NFL season. Whether written by fans or journalists or whomever, bias tends to rein to the upside. In general, I take comfort in the eternal optimism humankind demonstrates with this behavior, but here at WDR we strive to keep the focus on reality, not hope.
So, as the title suggests, when we see a season preview, we keep track of it. And rest assured, we have a long memory. Check back later for a post where we aggregate the predictions made by the more relevant (or well known) outlets for 2009 and recap how those same folks did in 2008.
For now though, let's focus on the less relevant. Reader "BengalFan", apropos of nothing in my post about the Bengals and the Lottery, dropped a link in the comments to his Bengals season preview. Normally, I'd ignore or delete that type of link spam (please, if you want us to read something, do not drop a link in the comments of a post that has nothing to do with what that post is about, email us instead), but I decided to give "BengalFan" a chance.
Let's see what "BengalFan" has to say about the 2009 Bengals:
It opens with a canned intro:
Cincinnati Bengals have been the laughing stock of the league for what seems like forever. Last year a ton of injuries on offense held back what many predicted would be a solid team.
Hmmm...I'd consider putting "The" in front of "Cincinnati Bengals". But if you're aiming for an awkward start, this gets the job done. Also, what "seems like forever" is actually 19 years. No need to research this even though it's plastered all over the site you just dropped your link into. Last, how does a "ton" of injuries on offense last year explain the 0-4 start? And don't include us among those who predicted the Bengals would be solid. For a refresher, see our 3-13 prediction here.
The good news for the Bengals is there defense was much improved and with the youth on defense they should only get better. Offensively there are a ton of questions with at least 5 new starters and several very young players at key positions. Today Handicapper Craig Trapp is going to give a preview and prediction for the Bengals 2009 season.
There, their, they're...who's keeping track? End canned intro. Enter Craig Trapp, handicapper extraordinaire! Take it away Craig...
Carson Palmer's questionable elbow is a very large concern in Cincinnati but Coach Lewis has been optimistic that he will be healthy this season. The bigger concern has to be the turnover on the offensive line with at least three new starters.
I am not sure how "Coach Lewis" (perhaps Craig played for him once?) hoping his QB is healthy does anything to offset broader concern about said QB's health. Besides (though maybe I'm alone on this), I do not know of any medical reason to believe Carson will not be 100% going into this year. I probably should be more worried, but I think there are more concerns elsewhere, like, as Craig correctly notes, the Offensive Line.
Also the departure of TJ Houschmanzada via free agency leaves some big shoes to fill. The good news with a younger bigger offensive line we should see a better running game with Cedric Benson. Also with more time Carson Palmer should be able to show off his super accurate arm. The offense no longer will have to score 30 points to win a game instead a 21 point output should put them in the win column most games.
Ah, the unorthodox "sch" and "zada" spelling of Houshmandzadeh. I like it. What I don't like, however, is how the questionable offensive line from the previous sentence now becomes an asset in an improved running game and better at protection (let the record show, we would probably not be worse at running this year with me at RB than we were last year). Similarly, in just a few sentences, Carson has gone from questionable health to being a superduper, sweet, amazing wonder QB. That's a relief.
Last, the defense gave up an average 22.8 points/game last season. So even with improvement, we will need more margin of error than 21 points/game on offense for me to feel safe predicting a winning season.
What once was the achilles heal has now turned into a very big positive. With the addition of Ray Malaluga, Tank Johnson, and Roy Williams you will see this team have much better leadership and athleticism. Last year this team finished in the top 15 in almost every defensive category and for sure we should see this team in the top 10 this year.
Everyone can relax! Craig guarantees we have a top 10 defense next year. He also guarantees misspelling names.
First, in general, I loathe when people state possibilities as if they are certainties. Yes, I am optimistic the defense will maintain its level or improve upon last year. I'd bet on us improving actually. But that's a possibility, not a certainty.
Second, I will never believe we have a top 10 defense on our hands until I see some evidence of a pass rush. I certainly won't classify our defense as a guaranteed "very big positive" like Craig. It's just no longer a massive problem.
The one area that still is a question is pressure off the ends in passing downs. But with a much quicker LB and secondary we still will see teams not be able to pass verse the Bengals. An improved defense could be the spark this team needs to get back into the playoffs!
Craig is skeptical of our rush too. And I am increasingly skeptical of his command of English and grammar. It's also unclear if Craig thinks our whole LB unit is quicker or if just one particular unnamed LB is.
But we can all agree that an improved defense will not be the spark that keeps us out of the playoffs! (think about it)
Special teams will be better for the Bengals as they have added a new punter, who was a stud in College, Kevin Huber should make there return defense even better. Shayne Graham continues to be one of the most consistent kickers in the league and can't imagine that would change in 2009. This special teams should be in the top half of every category in 2009.
My take: whatever and proofread your work. Also, given kickers have little control from year to year over their accuracy (they do not determine the difficulty of the field goals their coaches make them kick), I can imagine his "consistency" might change in 2009. You might know that Craig, if you actually read the posts on WDR, rather than just dropping links into our comments.
If what the experts say is true that Defenses win games then we should see the 2009 Cincinnati Bengals at least in the above 500 category. But if the offensive line comes together like Coach Lewis predicts we could see this team with a minimum of 10 wins. A very dangerous team in a very good division watch out for this sleeper.
Just a general trainwreck of style, grammar and logic.* According to this, Craig believes:
- The Bengals will be at least above .500 because of an unsubstantiated conventional wisdom.
- The Bengals will have a minimum of 10 wins (again with the certainties) if clearly biased predictions about our offensive line from "Coach Lewis" play out.
I might be sold. But only if Craig would tack on a throwaway line that a) combines sentences without punctuation, and b) lacks a subject. Wait, he did that?! Sold! Bengals win at least 10 games this year!
Making money on the Bengals will be easy take the over 7 wins in future books. Great value, and when Palmer is healthy they have never had less than 7 wins!
Again with the sentence combining. He just won't quit.
But the piece de resistance comes at the end (as if it coudn't get any worse). Craig cranks out a doozie to close. In his last sentence, Craig advises you, with completely benign intentions and no hint of doubt, to do the following: bet on the Bengals to win more than 7 games because when Carson is healthy the Bengals have never had less than 7 wins.
Good bet? Perhaps. But not for the reason Craig gives.
Remember, you'd have to take the over 7 wins before the season starts. Carson has been healthy all 5 years he has been the starter going into the season. The Bengals win totals those seasons? 8, 11, 8, 7, 4. That means your bet would have failed 2 out of 5 years and each of the past 2 years. Craig also also thinks you should buy a home because home prices have never fallen nationwide in the past...
A poorly written, poorly argued pile of crap. If I submitted it to an english teacher or professor I think they'd place the writing ability somewhere between the 5th grade level and Leo Hayes. The worst part? His preview, though lacking any substantive merit, might turn out to be right.
The Bengals are infinitely tougher to predict this year than last, so who knows? I wouldn't mind Craig's optimistic prediction of above .500 or a minimum of 10 wins if he had a) chosen one or the other, or b) actually presented a decent case to back it up. He did neither. Keep the season previews coming...
*Yes, I am aware I am using sentence fragments. That is because this is a blog with a conversational tone where the rules of grammar can be bent. I can't catch every spelling, grammar error anyway, but I can certainly do better than Craig did above.