In what can only be described as "awesomely appropriate," the orange and black come to Seattle on the day before Halloween for a game of football.
One of the many surprises in the NFL this season, Cincinnati is 4-2 and the winner of three straight games, now coming off of a bye week. How close are the Bengals to being 6-0? Well, they lost by two points at Denver in week two and by five points (seven if you don't count the end of game safety) to now 5-1 San Francisco. The Bengals are indeed, for real.
And isn't it funny that after eight years of Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco playing together and thought to be the best duo the team could ever hope for, they're finally on the right track in the year after they leave? Still, the Bengals easiest work is behind them and the real test will be in the second half of the season.
They haven't played Baltimore or Pittsburgh yet, which is half of their last eight games. This is a game more important to Cincinnati than it may be to Seattle, because they can't afford to lose any games that they should win if they want to make the playoffs in that division. Of course, our hometown crowd welcomes the opportunity to show the Bengals that, with all due respect, not in our house buddy.
Here are eight things you may or may not know about Bengals:
The Bengals have a rookie quarterback
One week after facing Colt McCoy, NCAA's all-time most winningest QB (45 wins), the Hawks face a guy who has 42 college victories of his own. Andy Dalton not only holds every TCU record you could think of, but he did the unthinkable when he led them to a Rose Bowl victory last season.
For the first time in their history, the Horned Frogs didn't play Boise State in a bowl game (okay, not true, but they played the Broncos the previous two years in the "Matchup of the Best Schools We Disrespect Bowl") and they not only beat Wisconsin in Pasadena, but they finished undefeated and 2nd in the polls. People love to throw around the term "winner" for Tim Tebow, a player who was 1-2 as a starter in his rookie season, but what does that make Andy Dalton? If he has twice as many wins as Tebow, a "winner," then let's just hand the next ten Lombardi trophies to Dalton right now.
Dalton is by no means spectacular, but he's done a good job in not being a problem for Cincinnati. I'm no "Thomas Beekers expert" on DVOA, but I've decided to head over to Football Outsiders to take a look at Dalton and I see him ranked as 17th in DVOA. Ahead of Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler, Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman, and Sam Bradford, to name a few. He's not as highly touted by AdvancedNFLStats.com, where he ranks 25th in Wins Probability Added and his 5.1 yards per attempt ranks 18th.
In terms of traditional numbers, Dalton is completing 62.4% of his passes for 218.5 yards per game, 7 TD/5 INT and a 84.3 QB rating in five and a half games (Bruce Gradkowski started game one.)
So, can a rookie quarterback lead his team to the playoffs? It's not nearly as rare as it used to be. Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, and Mark Sanchez have all done it in recent years. Sam Bradford fell one win short. Dalton could very well join this club in 2011, and who better to do it than the son of Jerry O'Connell and an actual Bengal tiger:
Which transitions me perfectly to...
The Bengals QB is a "Ginger"
To all of my red-headed readers, let me begin by saying that I mean no offense. That's why ginger is in quotation marks. But in order to beat the discrimination, you have to face it redhead-on.
Urban dictionary describes a ginger as:
A human, characterized by pale skin, freckles, and bright red hair. "Gingers" are generally considered to be inferior to their more melanin-rich brethren, and thus deservingly discriminated against. Gingers are thought to have no souls.
This is the most interesting myth about "gingers," whether or not they actually contain a soul. Now, far be it from me to get into the whole "soul" discussion alone, but better yet, are red-headed children simply empty vessels?
This class seems to think so
The only way to know for sure is to actually make contact with one of them. Now, I personally have never and will never talk to one (what if they bite me?) so I have to think about the world's most famous gingers:
Gorgeous, she's the type of woman you literally have to sell your soul for.
Completely cold-hearted, she never let Mulder have any fun. But irresistible, as if you knew you were doing something wrong by loving her.
Rod and Todd
I can't find any factual evidence that Rod and Todd are gingers (please lend me a hand) but if they are, it's scary-good proof. (Now remembering that Maude was a red head too.)
Robert Zemeckis had to replace Stoltz in Back to the Future when he found out he was a natural red head.
Isn't it funny that after the death of Dave Thomas, Wendy's fries got worse with his daughter in charge?
I literally could, and want to, go on like this forever. There's so many good examples: Carrot Top, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Beaker, Pippi Longstockings, Super Size Me, Run Lola Run, Mark McGwire, Danny Bonaduce, L Ron Hubbard, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, Molly Ringwald, Ron Weasley, Shaggy, Hagar the Horrible, and Julianne Moore. But the point is that just because all of those examples don't have a soul, doesn't mean that everyone with red hair is without soul.
Will redheads be extinct by 2060, as the internet rumor goes? According to this report, no. That was just a little red lie. The world will not be without gingers, but...
The Bengals will be without Cedric Benson
During the lockout, Benson was arrested for misdemeanor assault, his second assault charge in a little over a year. He served five days of a 20 day sentence and then was suspended by the league for three games. Benson appealed and the league waited... and waited... and waited to finally come to a decision and reduce his suspension to just one game. This game.
The Seahawks are lucky to miss out on facing Benson, not because he's nearly as good as he was in 2009, but because the drop-off from Benson to backup Bernard Scott seems significant. Mostly because of experience and Scott getting off to a slow start this season (2.8 yards per carry) but not because of physical ability.
Scott was regarded as an "athletic freak" at the 2009 combine coming out of Abilene Christian as one of the best Division II running backs of all time. He finished 2nd to Danny Woodhead in their version of the Heisman race, but he set single-season records with 39 total touchdowns and 234 points scored. He also rushed for 2,165 yards that year.
The reason that Scott never could cut it at a major university however was also part of the reason he became a sixth round pick and not a day one pick; Scott was kicked off of his high school team for fighting, kicked out of Central Arkansas University after Freshman of the Year honors for hitting a coach, and had several other off-field violations. Even at Abilene Christian he found himself on 18-month probation.
In other words, he's a Cincinnati Bengal.
You can own a Bengal of your own
Unlike the Bengal Tiger, that will treat your face like a can of Friskies, you can buy a breed of cat that is (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful breeds of kitty.
The Bengal cat is a hybrid cross breed of a domestic feline and an Asian Leopard Cat.
You can buy a Bengal from many different websites. This one gives a warning of: Many people acquire them for their exotic looks, not realizing that they may be biting off more than they can chew, for Bengals are NOT your "ordinary" cats. They have very demanding temperaments and seek constant attention and involvement in the action at hand, be that typing, showering, cooking, or trying to take a nap.
But BengalsClassifieds.com just wants you to know that Bengal cats love running water and aren't afraid of water like normal house cats. Which is nice because I am pretty sure I gave my childhood cat one bath ever and decided I would never go through that again.
Similar kitties include the Cheetoh:
and the Toyger
Which I think is just GR-R-R-REAT!
The best player in black and orange might be Green
From high school to the NFL, A.J. Green has consistently been one of the best football players on any field he plays on. As good as Andy Dalton looks as a second round pick in 2011, Green looks even better as the fourth overall pick out of Georgia.
To offset the losses of Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, the Bengals drafted Green early because of his speed, hands, size, NFL-readiness and the fact that he played in a pro-style offense at Georgia. The only knock on Green might have been a small incident where he sold a jersey for $1,000 and was suspended four games by the NCAA, but he righted that ship immediately and character concerns were washed away. Still, even with no character issues, the Bengals drafted him.
Green has 29 catches on 48 targets for 453 yards, 15.8 yards per catch, 9.4 yards per target, four touchdowns and 37.5% of targets going for over 15 yards. A rookie quarterback couldn't ask for a better friend.
In this age of the NFL where we "WANT IT NOW" like all fans were Veruca Salt, Green is providing the goods immediately.
One of the most important matchups of the day will be our young secondary versus Green, Jerome Simpson, and tight end Jermaine Gresham. However, it might again come down to whether or not the Seahawks can score because...
The Bengals play good defense
Last season, Cincinnati was 24th in scoring defense, 15th in total defense, 14th against the pass, 19th against the run, and 17th in forced turnovers. They featured not a single Pro Bowler (neither did the offense or special teams) and one might have thought that defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and head coach Marvin Lewis were on the chopping block.
Instead, the two returned and the Bengals have dramatically improved.
This season the Bengals are 4th in scoring defense, 2nd in total defense, 5th against the pass, 5th against the run, and 16th in turnovers forced. Football Outsiders agrees and the Bengals are ranked 7th in DAVE, 6th against the pass and 10th against the run.
While the team has yet to face a juggernaut offense (you could barely call any of their opponents even a good offense) they have still done their job in keeping opponents out of the end zone, allowing eleven touchdowns in six games. Conversely, the Colts allowed twenty-five touchdowns to the Saints last week.
The interesting thing is that the Bengals are hardly tested against a good offense during the entire regular season, with the Texans and Steelers being their toughest matchups.
Zimmer was hired in 2008 by Marvin Lewis (who you will remember as a defensive genius for Baltimore once upon a time) to improve a unit that hadn't finished in the top 10 in total defense since 2001. They have finished in the top 15, and as high as fourth, in each of his three years at the helm.
Fun Fact: Mike Zimmer was the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Washington State from 1989-1993. After the Cougs finished eighth in the nation in total defense in '93, Zimmer got his first NFL job with the Dallas Cowboys as an assistant. (Go Cougs!)
Not to be confused with The Bangles
The Bengals are an All-Male NFL football team that has as many Super Bowl victories as the Seahawks, but The Bangles are an All-Female pop rock super-group with more hits than both the Bengals and Seahawks combined.
The first hit was "Manic Monday," reaching #2 in the US behind only "Kiss" by Prince, who funnily enough actually wrote "Manic Monday." Is there anything that Symbol can't do?
The Bangles chose the right song to reach fame, knowing without a doubt that everybody hates Mondays. Not quite unlike how Rebecca Black reached super-fame by telling the world that you "gotta get down on Friday." I will be taking a similar route by releasing my debut single next week titled, "Tuesday, Whats that About?" followed by "Humping Wednesdays"
Next, they told us we needed to "Walk Like an Egyptian," which proved once and-for-all that nobody really gave a shit what you sang about in the eighties. The song was actually inspired not by pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, but by seeing people on ferries awkwardly walk around trying to keep their balance. Sadly, none of this was featured in the music video, which could have been shot in the northwest.
Still, none of these hits compare to my favorite Bengals song of all time, "Eternal Flame." The ballad scored a #1 ranking in nine different countries, but most importantly, has brought out the romantic in all men and women who wish to voice their feelings to another.
Tell me you could walk away from this:
Close your eyes, give me your hand, darling
Do you feel my heart beating, do you understand?
Do you feel the same, am I only dreaming?
Is this burning an eternal flame?
So far, girls have only told me that I am only dreaming, but I know one day it will turn out to be an eternal flame.
The Bengals can own Bengals
Cedric Benson was one of only 17 Bengals that had to be tracked down recently in Ohio. In what, in all seriousness, is a very sad story, dozens of Bengal tigers, wolves, bears, and other exotic animals had to be tracked down and killed after they were released by their owner who subsequently committed suicide.
I am not really going to make light of that incident, but I really was just shocked to learn that you could privately own exotic animals in several US states, including Ohio.
Not only does it seem dangerous, but it is dangerous. Look at this list created by the Humane Society of recent incidents. Including:
"A man was hospitalized after being attacked and repeatedly punched in the face and upper body by a kangaroo at an exotic animal breeding farm."
Here is an exclusive photo of the kangaroo:
"A pet bear who had a history of escapes and aggressive behavior was shot and killed after the animal escaped and attacked a sheriff's deputy."
When reached for comment, the bear's owner said "I can't believe the bear had aggressive behavior. A bear."
"Firefighters found a tiger in a pen behind a burning garage."
Luckily, every firefighter in America has to go through tiger training for an incident such as this. We're still waiting for "infants that are properly trained to use samurai swords training" to finally pay off.
Seriously though, you own an exotic pet and you're just asking for trouble. Currently, wide receiver Jerome Simpson is fighting his marijuana charge by arguing that he thought he was ordering a Caribou, not cannabis.
That's all folks. Follow me on twitter @casetines