The T.O. show has hit Cincinnati but Al Dannity isn’t convinced the receiver is enough to push the Bengals into a second straight playoff appearance.
Off-season changes Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco got their wish; Terrell Owens is now a Bengal. The wide receiver has a tarnished image but one that is horribly exaggerated. Unlike so many NFL players Owens has never had any trouble with the law and generally, even during his biggest hissy-fits, he always managed to maintain phenomenal numbers on the field. Even his career low numbers in Buffalo were far from shabby and he still had a gaudy average of 15.1 yards per reception.
T.O. is joined in Cincinnati by fellow free agent signee Antonio Bryant and the freshly drafted Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley. This quartet will vastly improve Palmer’s options in the passing game. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap was drafted in the second round out of Florida. NFL betting fans should monitor how the rookie helps Cincinnati’s defense build on its superb 2009 season.
Mark your calendar Sadly for fans, there will only be one chance to see T.O. put on a show against one of his former teams. The visit of the Bills in week 11 lacks the explosion of a match-up against the Eagles or Cowboys. It should still however provide plenty of motivation for Ochouno, as he’s been dubbed by Chad Ochocinco, to get some payback.
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The games straight after that reunion could make or break the Bengal’s season. Cincinnati has a road assignment against the Jets in week 12, a repeat of last season’s wild card playoffs. The Bengals then welcome the Saints in week 13. Cincinnati’s two games against the Ravens, in weeks 2 and 17 could also have far-reaching implications for the post-season.
The verdict Despite all the new toys at Carson Palmer’s disposal, Cincinnati’s success in 2010 will largely rest on its defense. The Bengals face some offensive juggernauts this season and a repeat of last year’s stifling, and at times heroic, defensive showing is a must. I don’t buy the talk about Terrell Owens potentially poisoning the Bengals’ locker room. There’s no doubt he can talk plenty but he usually backs it up on the field. The Bengals finally have the kind of weapons in the passing game to allow Carson Palmer to lead this offense with authority.
The schedule is the one over-arching concern I have. The strength of Baltimore, as a divisional rival, coupled with so many tough assignments over the course of 2010, will make a return to the playoffs tough. I like Cincinnati to go 10-6 and be in with a shot at a wild-card spot in the playoffs.