Three things have changed about the Bengals, who enter Heinz Field on Sunday tied for the AFC North lead with the Super Bowl champion Steelers:
Lewis screamed at his team to "be f---ing pros!'' And it not only got my attention -- it got his vets' attention. "Oh, I remember the moment,'' said cornerback
That's what I'll focus on here -- how well the defense is playing, and who in the world these guys are. It's hard to fly under the radar in today's NFL, but when the keywords are "Bengals'' and "defense,'' well, it gets a little easier to be invisible.
The Bengals are fifth in the league in scoring defense (16.9 points per game allowed), seventh in average yards per rush allowed (3.79 yards), and they're the only team in the league with two corners with four interceptions.
"The best thing we have going for us,'' Zimmer told me this week, "is we've got no stars. And nobody wants to be one. Our guys are tough, smart, willing to work, not sensitive, and they play for the love of the game. I love that part of it. All they want to do is win, and when you have that attitude among your players -- and it's real -- you've got a chance.''
You know the guy with the brunette hair fluffing out of his helmet, down to the small of his back? Well, you don't know him. His name's
Last week, it was interesting to watch the self-assured
Overall, Joseph said it's been faith in Zimmer's aggressive scheme that's helped Cincinnati play this well. "We've had a full year in the system now,'' he said, "and we know it, we're confident in it, and if we play it right, we're convinced we'll win.''
The Bengals know everyone's looking for their bubble to burst Sunday in Pittsburgh. They've been a nice little story, going 4-0 in the division so far, including a sweep of the Ravens. Now, at Pittsburgh, we'll find out everything about them. Zimmer is challenging his players this week to play smart -- and to not let that big tree-trunk in the Steeler backfield to roam free.
"We can't let
Cutler, after his five-pick night in San Francisco, has 17 in nine games.
Chicago's offensive line is contributing to the damage Cutler is inflicting. I'd say the fault is 60 percent Cutler's over-aggressive forcing of the ball, 37 percent rarely having a pocket to set up and survey the field, and 3 percent the amateurish snapping of center
The Bears are in a vicious cycle: Because they can't run the ball consistently, they're forced to let Cutler try to make every first down, and because the defense knows he'll be throwing so much, the rush can break down the pocket and lead Cutler to mistakes. How to fix it? The only way to put scotch-tape on it now is to max-protect more with an extra blocker on every pass play, either with an extra tight end or extra back -- or both. And in the offseason, GM
Last week, the two rookies -- Powers a third-round pick from Auburn, Lacey a college free agent from Oklahoma State -- started in tandem for the first time because of knee injuries to both Indy starters,