November 28, 2007

More Than One Way To Skin A Cat....

"It's the first time in a long time that we played a complete game. This is how we normally play. Too bad for us it hasn't come enough."
- T.J. Houshmanzadeh
Get set Steeler fans, because before you know it, it'll be Sunday and the Steelers will be set to do battle with the Cincinnati Bungles and the high flying Chad Johnson novelty show...These games just don't seem to be getting any easier, do they? Well, with the Patriots, Jaguars, and Ravens on the horizon, I guess we'd better get used to it.

As for the immediate game at hand -- Beyond the obvious division rivalry and ever-present potential for offensive fireworks, the other problem this game poses is the same that our past two have posed - Teams with nothing to lose are dangerous. Only for this one, factor an Offense that averages 25 points a game into the equation...

Cincy has all but ruled themselves out of the playoffs with a 4-7 record (or close enough), and they are currently tied with the Ravens for the bitches of the AFC North title. Add to that the memory of what we did to them last December 31, and I'd say they've got more than enough motivation to contribute to the Steelers loss column on Sunday.

That said, the will to win is one thing. Talent is another. And as much as I'd like to say otherwise, the Bungles have a good amount of it.

If you thought the Bungles Offense was good the last time we played them, you'll really love them now...with even MORE Offensive threats to scare us. Of course in saying this I'm referring to the triumphant returns of RB Rudi Johnson from injury, and WR Chris Henry from suspension/idiocy. Plus, the previously banged up Bungles Defense has gotten healthy enough to allow DE Robert Geathers to move back to his natural position...and while the Bungles D continues to be ranked among the bottom 10 in the league, it should be noted that they share this distinction with the last two teams the Steelers have played...

Realistically though, this is still a pretty Defensively-challenged team. So while we're on the subject, let's do a little side-by-side comparison, shall we?

Cincy vs. The League
  • 7.36 Passing Yards Per Attempt | 7.96 Passing Yards Allowed Per Attempt
  • 3.55 Rushing Yards Per Attempt | 4.4 Rushing Yards Allowed Per Attempt
  • 4073 Total Yards For | 4098 Total Yards Allowed
  • 282 Points For | 292 Points Against
What this basically means is that for every yard the Bungles have gained, their opponents have gained a little more than one, and for every time the Bungles have scored, their opponents have scored just a little more. Of course, this bodes well for the Steelers. But stats are stats, averages are but mere calculations. None can be any definitive indicator of what a team will do any given week (see Steelers v. Jets, Steelers v. Dolphins, Steelers v. Broncos...I could go on, but what's the use, you get the idea).

Nonetheless, principally, for the Steelers to be successful on Sunday, it'll take another big showing from the Defense. And if for the sake of our discussion, we base our expectations on how the Bungles performed against the Titans on Sunday (the logical thing to do), we have more worries than the last time we faced them.

Riding Rudi and Chad and Johnson's coat tails, last Sunday the Cincy running attack topped 100 yards (126) for just the 3rd time this season and contributed 2 scores, while Carson Palmer hooked up with his old friend Ocho Cinco for 103 yards and 3 scores (much to the chagrin of my fantasy team who going against him). Plus, the oft-incarcerated Chris Henry caught 3 balls for 41 yards, and Mr. Ponytail himself, T.J. Houshmazoo, caught 6 more for 77 yards. For those keeping score at home that's 210 yards between the three of them...and the Bungles cruised to a pretty routine 35-6 drubbing of the Tennessee Titans.

Of course the game prior to that wasn't exactly a paragon of perfection for them. Against the Arizona Steelers Cardinals, Carson Palmer threw 4 picks (2 of which were returned for scores), Ocho Cinco coughed up a fumble, and between Kenny Watson and Rudi Johnson, the Cincy running game could only muster 70 yards...which all led to a 35-27 loss.

So which Offense can we expect on Sunday? There's always a chance it'll be the one that showed up against Arizona. But we better be ready for the one that rolled over Tennessee. The Bungles know better than most that AFC North games exist outside the confines of normal week-to-week league play. These games mean more than any others on the schedule. Especially when they're played against the division leader. Hence, I think we'd be apt to expect the same explosive Offense that dismantled Tennessee.

But all this aside, there's still one constant -- they're eating that Cincinnati Chili out there. So I'm sure they're crazy as ever...Cinnamon in Chili..something is fundamentally wrong with that...seriously.

How about you guys? Are you worried about the Bungles this time around? Will the return of Rudi Johnson have any effect on the outcome? What are the odds that Chris Henry gets arrested before kickoff? Why do I always ask so many questions? Help me unravel this mess, please...


Big Ben - 9 | Ohio - 0 [Here]
I Hear 5-2 Is A Whole Lot Cooler Than 4-3 [Here]
Being Bad Never Felt So Good, AKA Cincinnati Preview Part I [Here]
Bengals 2007 Stats [Pro-football-reference]
Bengals Ground Attack Awakens [Cincinnati Enquirer]
Backermania []
Bengals Sign LB Maxwell to Two-Year Contract [Cincinnati Wire Report]
With Playoffs Out of Reach, Bengals Start to Put It All Together [Associated Press]

Ballhype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

This game worries me. And it's not the Bungles offense that worries me's the STEELERS offense that worries me.

The O line needs to do a better job protecting Ben. I feel that if they can do that, then we win.

Cotter said...

Yep, there's a number of offensive keys to victory for sure.

I plan on giving this a little more in depth treatment on Friday. This business was just a primer if you check back...

Anonymous said...

I've gotta agree with anon: this game, and our offense, worries me too.

I've said before that championship-caliber teams need to win the games they're expected to win. More to the point they need to beat teams who they're better than. And i clearly think the Steelers are better than the Bengals. (i'll resume calling them the Bungles after we whoop them again).