I had little faith that Tampa's defense would be able to contain the monster that is the Bengal's offense, and this is when they had Tanard Jackson starting. Yet, given the recent uninspiring performance of Carson Palmer (and the rest of the unit as a whole), even with unproven Cody Grimm manning the safety spot, I'm inflated with optimism.
Palmer's statistics, aside from yards, are worse than Josh Freeman's thus far into the season. He has fewer touchdowns, more interceptions, and a quarterback rating more than a dozen points below Freeman's.
To be fair, the Bengal's have played much tougher opponents thus far, and against New England the Cincinnati quarterback played well. Yet the teams two wins were achieved in spite of Carson's play, especially his god awful outing against the Panthers.
Freeman was snubbed against Pittsburgh, and against two weak teams he showed grit and ability in many facets. Yet, the comeback against Cleveland was inspiring, (the Williams touchdown stopped hearts), and he cleaned up a bit against Carolina the following week. Fortunately, he is difficult to sack, (as he tip-toed around two Panthers on a critical third down), and when he misses a receiver it tends to be overthrows than underthrows. Trying to make those plays with a weaker arm would more than likely have lead to interceptions since there would be someone besides a referee near the ball.
Each team barely has a running game. Tampa doesn't know what Blount and Huggins will yield, however they've been impressed by the former's play last week and the latter in August. Each back has me excited with their distinct talents.
As far at defense is concerned the Bengals outclass Tampa at this point. I don't want to talk about Batch right now to avoid herniating a disc. Each has given up a similar amount of points: 59 for TB and 55 for CIN, yet the yardage is where the Bengals best Tampa.
I know Tampa has what appears to be a better pass defense as they haven't given up as much through the air as Cincinnati- however teams choose to run all over them instead of pass. This is evidenced by the disparity between the Buc's tenth ranked pass defense and their 29th ranked run defense. It's reminiscent of past years when the Vikings were #1 against the run, but their pass defense was the worst in the league- only attractive through specious reasoning.
Cincinnati's offensive mishaps make the contest next Sunday appear more competitive. A lot more will be asked of Grimm as he is sure to be Palmer's focus. That, and the opposing wide-outs possess the best tandem Grimm will see all season. If Carson frequently turns the ball over and keeps the Buc's in the game, I have every confidence that Freeman will be able to help his team win.
All statistics provided by www.nfl.com. Happy Birthday Nicole.