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Know Your Enemy: The Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati is known for a lot of things. Like, having a city name that is spelled with an inordinate amount of N's. And, having a team whose mascot makes no sense when taken into consideration with the climate and region. And, being the "other city in Ohio". And, for having... ok, I don't know what Cincy is known for. 

Their football team is surprisingly good though. They have the league's 2nd ranked defense and an up-and-coming offense with shiny new weapons Andy Dalton and AJ Green. I doubted Dalton when he came out of TCU, even though he led his team to a Rose Bowl victory, but mostly because I figured there was a QB-feeding frenzy hysteria surrounding him due to the lockout and lack of free-agency, and not so much because of extensive scouting. I have learned my lesson, I will scout players more thoroughly before writing them off. For this, I have Andy Dalton to thank.

That being said, he's only played in six games. In those six games, he's led his team to a 4-2 record, and beaten the Browns, Bills, Jaguars, and Colts. In those games, the Bengals offense has put up 27, 23, 30, and 27, respectively. Not shabby.

Dalton has completed 62% of his passes for 1,311 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. To give you some perspective, in one less game, Tarvaris Jackson has completed 63% of his passes for 1,012 yards, 6 touchdowns to 5 interceptions. Fairly similar, actually. 

The Bengals stinginess on defense is second only to the Ravens, and they give up a mere 278 yards per game. They give up 18.5 points per game, -4th in the NFL-, with their pass defense ranked 5th in the league in passing yards given up per game, and they give up 89 yards a game on the ground. 

Per Football Outsiders' DVOA rankings, Cincy sits at 18th in offense, 7th in defense, and 9th in special teams, for an overall ranking of 12th in the NFL. This is a legit team. Let's make no mistake about that.

Here is what the people that know this team well are saying (and I'll add, Cincy Jungle is one of the best-run SBN Blogs out there):

Grading The Trenches: Bengals Bye Week Update - Cincy Jungle
Week six isn't the midway point of the season, but it's a good opportunity for the Bengals to do some self-evaluations. During the bye weeks, teams will scout themselves to get a better feel for their own tendencies and habits. From these evaluations, the Bengals will be able to enhance what they're doing correctly and correct the consistent errors. I'll be doing the same thing in our own normal format. Looking back at what's working and what needs to improve for the Bengals to make a second half run.

Marvin Lewis: I Don't Want to be a Stat - Cincy Jungle
This season, the NFL started rotating teams through bye weeks in Week 5. Since then, 18 teams have had a week off, including the Cincinnati Bengals, who had last weekend off (Week 7). The bye week gives a team a chance to get healthy and to rest their players for a week. While I'm sure that the bye helps teams when it comes to injuries, it doesn't help them win games.

Bengals on the West Coast - Cincy Jungle - Winning on the road in the NFL is a tough thing to do and winning on the road when you have to travel all the way across the country is even tougher. In general, teams from the East Coast don't do too well when they have to travel west and teams from the West Coast don't do too well when they have to travel east. I guess the teams in the middle are the lucky ones.

A Bye Week and Experienced Backups Should Help Bengals LBs Prepare to Face Seattle Without Maualuga - Cincy Jungle - With Rey Maualuga expected to sit out Sunday's game in Seattle against the Seahawks, the Bengals will turn to third-year middle linebacker Dan Skuta to fill his shoes. Luckily, Thomas Howard, one of the team's leading tacklers, will be back in the lineup as well to help Skuta out. But what will also help Skuta is the team's Week 7 bye which gave him more time to prepare as the team's starting middle linebacker.

Four Bengals Will Reunite With Their College Coach on Sunday - Cincy Jungle - Rey Maualuga, Keith Rivers, Frostee Rucker and Taylor Mays are all a part of the 2011 Bengals second-ranked defense. Maualuga and Rucker have been bigger parts, obviously, as Mays has seen very limited action and Rivers has yet to take the field. All four of these players have something more in common -- they all played for Pete Carroll while playing college football at the University of Souther California. Carroll will be united with them when his team, the Seahawks host the Bengals on Sunday.

Vincent Rey Leading The Charge To Contain Seattle's Special Teams Play - Cincy Jungle - Bengals second year backup linebacker, Vincent Rey, has made an impact this year for the Bengals on special teams. He is currently second only to Gibril Wilson in special team tackles. Rey spent his off-season working out with Seattle Seahawk Leon Washington, who has also made his impact in the NFL on special teams. Washington is currently 2nd all-time in NFL history, to Cleveland's Josh Cribbs for most career NFL kickoff returns for touchdowns with seven. When asked to describe Washington, Rey had this to say: