A couple of websites providing more sophisticated statistical information than traditional metrics have some interesting stuff about the Bengals. Here's a quick rundown for those who care.
First, from their weekly "audibles at the line" game commentary, Rob Weintraub notes two surprising Bengals players who had good games:
Dare I blaspheme, but solid as Keith Rivers is, his backup Brandon Johnson is better. He was a Defeat machine in reserve last season, and he has been everywhere the last two games. Eventually, I expect Rivers to move inside, once Dhani takes a trip and doesn't return.
Pittsburgh habitually kills us with routes that show outside and slide inside, either by design or ad libs during Roethlisberger scrambles. The Bengals did a fabulous job of dropping into those passing lanes (often zone blitzing), and the corners stuck with their men like glue--even third CB Morgan Trent.
I am not qualified to tell you if Brandon Johnson may indeed be better than Rivers or whether Morgan Trent covers well but the point is the Bengals apparently have some of that elusive depth we harp on frequently. In fact, they seem to have it most everywhere except the one place you can't really have it, QB. It's good to see Trent playing well as the secondary depth was a noted pre-season concern along with the offensive line.
Speaking of the offensive line, maybe we should have looked into resigning Levi. Also from the article:
And Ladell Betts is having a game. Looks pretty darn good, and the Redskins line -- with Levi Jones signed off the street and starting at left tackle shortly thereafter -- is actually getting some big holes against the Denver front that's been so good this year.
I am still looking for an adequate explanation for why he a) he started sucking and b) why this means he would continue to suck indefinitely. Even though we did mess up the Steinbach/Anderson decision, if Levi had never fallen off things may have gone much differently from 2006-2008.
For those who cannot resist looking ahead, the FO playoff odds section will give you much mirth. The quick summary:
- Bengals odds of making the playoffs sit around 97%. Higher than any other AFC team except the Colts. Remarkable when you think about how bad the Pats division always is and how good they are.
- We are the odds on favorite for the 2 seed and thus a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Unbelievable.
The Enquirer via Joe Reedy also features a piece by WhatIfSports.com on how the controversial Larry Johnson signing might work out. The punchline: if LJ replaces Benson it costs 1 game (we go 5-2 down the stretch instead of 6-1).
Unrelated to the Bengals but I think interesting nonetheless, though perhaps beaten into the ground, is Advanced NFL Stats analysis of the Belichick 4th & 2 decision. Original post here and responses to the most common criticisms of the conclusion here. The conclusion basically states that the decision to go for it most likely gave the Pats the best percentage chance to win but, perhaps, at the cost of sending the wrong message to his players.
I have no real issue with the call. I always think coaches should be more bold on 4th and short than they are. And if the main criticism is that the Pats defense's feelings were hurt because it seemed as if their coach didn't trust them, well then, those players need to get over it because he was probably right.
Since I'm using this post as an all purpose dumping ground for stuff on my mind, here's a few other things.
Christmas Ape of KSK likes to troll our comments from time to time since he is a Steelers fan. His job is to write humorously but as a rival fan I never know if he's serious or just messing with us when he comments here. Anyway, a couple of his comments after the game this week pissed me off, so job well done if that was his goal. Check them out here. I imagine he was just agitating cause the comments were ignorant as hell.
Particularly his "fair weather fan" depiction of Bengals fans, a bizarre characterization that is gaining traction and that I'd like to end. The stadium has been sold out for like 50 straight games after almost a decade and a half preceding that where we were the worst team in all pro sports. We're either the most loyal fans on Earth or the most moronic, but we are most definitely not fair weather.
Last, at the Bengals Bar in NYC, we cheered every time a Pittsburgh guy went down hurt. And we cheered loudly. The Steelers, their fans, decency, a sense of compassion and the Football Karma Gods can all go f themselves.