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Serious Love from the Perfesser


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"And 10. Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs

During my training camp tour, which enabled me to see 18 teams in person, the most impressive team I saw was the Bengals. Yet, as much as I believe in the talent of the Bengals and the coaching of Marvin Lewis, I didn't pick the Bengals to make the playoffs. Along with the Giants, the Bengals have the toughest schedule in the NFL, and an opening game against the Chiefs on the road isn't easy. The Chiefs have some of the best fans in the league. They are loud. They are supportive. They force false starts with their noise, and the Bengals can't afford a false start to their season. Carson Palmer is playing his first full game coming off reconstructive knee surgery, and he has plenty of issues. Will he still be able to use the no-huddle offense, which he used 80 percent of the time down the stretch last season? Does he have the durability to play three hours knowing he had only 42 snaps during the preseason? How will his timing be, as some expect he won't be back to his full athletic self until January? The Bengals have plenty of questions and lots of talent heading into the opener. The Chiefs have their own problems. Willie Roaf didn't show up this week, so it looks like he actually is retired. Without Roaf, Larry Johnson might find it a little harder to run to the left. Herman Edwards will try to minimize the loss of Roaf during his team meetings, but Roaf was the one player the team couldn't afford to lose."


Wow! this just might be a good year, after all. :D

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Some of this is nonsense. For instance, the comments about the fan noise and support. Does he think Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland weren't just as loud or aren't as supportive? They ran no-huddle and weren't offside in those stadiums. KC should be no more of a challenge than these away places. The Carson comments were more reasonable, but I would ask him, how many starting QB's play double or triple Carson's 42 snaps during pre-season? Does the difference matter? The tough schedule is about the only reason I can think of for the Bengals not making the playoffs, other than injuries, he's right about that. Still, I think they go just as far as a healthy Carson can play, which could be late into January, or is the super bowl now a February date?

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Clayton is big on the Strength of Schedule thing. I'll admit that it plays a fairly important part... but someone from our division has to go to the playoffs. The Bengals, Steelers, and Ravens are all in the top 10 in projected strength of schedule, so unless the Browns win the division, someone with one of the hardest schedules in football is going to the playoffs. Why not us?

This is like the AFC West last year. The Broncos, Chargers and Cheifs were all in the top 7 in strength of schedule. The Broncos finished 13-3... and KC and SD lost some very winnable games, or they might made the wild card.

All of that to say... we're far from doomed.

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I liked Hobson's article this morning that had a snippet dealing with the schedule issue.


THE SCHEDULE: Maybe it’s not the toughest in the NFL on second look. OK, the last three games (at Indy, at Denver and home against Pittsburgh) are miserable. But in this opening four-game stretch, couldn’t they be catching Kansas City (new coach and offensive tackles), Pittsburgh (wobbly quarterback) and New England (rebuilt defense) at just the right time?

Then check out the seven games from Oct. 29-Dec. 10. They play Baltimore twice, Atlanta, San Diego, and Oakland at home, and New Orleans and Cleveland on the road. Only San Diego had a winning record last season.

Sure, they play four of last season’s top five defenses (No. 1 Tampa Bay, No. 3 Carolina, No. 4 Pittsburgh and No. 5 Baltimore), but they also play six defenses that finished 15th or below and they have a top six offense themselves.

If you’re worried about the defense, how many offensive juggernauts do they face? Four finished in the top 10 (the Chiefs, Indy, Denver, New England), but six finished 20th or lower.

Look at it a little closer, and the matchups aren’t so bad.

Those first 4 games still seem like a tough way to start... but a 2-2 record at the bye seems like a worst case scenario. The last 3 games might be huge... but looking at the schedule, we could legitmately go on a 8 or 9 game win streak in the middle of the season, and the last 3 games might not matter that much afterall. If the Bears and Vikings could go on mid-season runs last year, we certainly can.

I think the schedule difficulty is a little over-stated.

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One thing I like to keep an eye on throughout the season is how teams do against other good teams. The Cold Hard Footbal Facts guys have a handy Quality Wins Index which tracks how teams do vs. other teams with winning records:


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