Mark Curnutte offers the latest on the Cincinnati Bengals

Mark Curnutte started covering the Bengals and the NFL for The Enquirer in 2000. He previously wrote about urban affairs and other social issues for the Enquirer. He won the prestigious 1994 Unity Award from Lincoln University (Missouri) for "A Polite Silence," a seven-day series about race relations in Greater Cincinnati. He also has worked as an assistant features editor and features writer at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. Curnutte is second vice president and a three-year board member of the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA). He is a 1984 Miami University graduate.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Bengals power down to 25th

The New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, but they can't beat them out for the top spot in USA TODAY's NFL power rankings.

(Power rankings reflect votes by 12 staffers after the NFL draft, with 32 points awarded for a first-place vote, 31 for a second ...)

QUESTIONS: Bengals fans, where do you rank your favorite team, 1 to 32, why, and who are your top five and bottom five at this point of the offseason?

1 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS Last rank: 2 Total points: 376
Notes: Surprising that 18-1 team receives NFL's easiest schedule. (Four first-place votes)

2 N.Y. GIANTS Last rank: 1 Total points: 362
Notes: Really no superstars, but burgeoning depth is impressive. (Five first-place votes.)

3 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS Last rank: 5 Total points: 357
Notes: Marvin Harrison's health could be least of his worries now. (One first-place vote.)

4 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS Last rank: 3 (tie) Total points: 353
Notes: Title hopes probably hinge on Philip Rivers' knee. (Two first-place votes.)

5 DALLAS COWBOYS Last rank: 7 Total points: 346
Notes: With Jerry, Felix, Pacman and in tow, Dallas loves Joneses. (Sorry, Julius.)

6 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS Last rank: 6 Total points: 325
Notes: Hey, Peyton, they're coming after you on the field and in the standings.

7 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS Last rank: 9 Total points: 288
Notes: Mike Holmgren could return to Super Bowl in his swan song.

8 CLEVELAND BROWNS Last rank: 11 (tie) Total points: 286
Notes: The Browns look primed to make a run at first division title since NFL return.

9 GREEN BAY PACKERS Last rank: 3 (tie) Total points: 271
Notes: Over/under: Is Brett Favre back under center by Week 6?

10 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES Last rank: 14 Total points: 270
Notes: Donovan McNabb reverted to Pro Bowl form at end of '07. Will it continue in '08?

11 PITTSBURGH STEELERS Last rank: 8 Total points: 263
Notes: If patchwork line can block, offense (with Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall in backfield) could be really scary.

12 MINNESOTA VIKINGS Last rank: 17 Total points: 224
Notes: QB questions persist, but with that defense, 13 points a game might net 11 wins.

13 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS Last rank: 16 Total points: 215
Notes: Sedrick Ellis will stop the run. But will the Saints be able to run themselves?

14 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS Last rank: 13 Total points: 207
Notes: Jon Gurden is quietly building the best young offensive line in the league.

15 HOUSTON TEXANS Last rank: 15 Total points: 199
Notes: They must overcome the division. Despite the injuries, they were 7-3 outside AFC South.

16 TIE ARIZONA CARDINALS Last rank: 18 Total points: 198
Notes: Issue No. 1: Can Matt Leinart reclaim (and thrive in) his starting role?

16 TIE TENNESSEE TITANS Last rank: 10 Total points: 198
Notes:Are they going to run the Wing-T or the wishbone this year?

18 WASHINGTON REDSKINS Last rank: 11 (tie) Total points: 193
Notes: Jason Campbell must now learn his third NFL offense since 2005.

19 CAROLINA PANTHERS Last rank: 23 Total points: 170
Notes: The draft showed that this regime is clearly in a win-now mode.

20 DENVER BRONCOS Last rank: 21 Total points: 168
Notes: It's been awhile since Mike Shanahan's had this many question marks.

21 BUFFALO BILLS Last rank: 20 Total points: 152
Notes: If Trent Edwards progresses, the Bills could reach the playoffs ... as a wild card.

22 CHICAGO BEARS Last rank: 19 Total points: 133
Notes: The defense had better rebound as the offense could be non-existent.

23 ST. LOUIS RAMS Last rank: 27 (tie) Total points: 127
Notes: Avoiding the injuries is key. But the Rams have the tools to be a major factor.

24 N.Y. JETS Last rank: 26 Total points: 115
Notes: They addressed plenty of needs in the offseason ... just not quarterback.

25 TIE CINCINNATI BENGALS Last rank: 22 Total points: 111
Notes: Even if Chad Johnson returns, the damage may be irreparable.

25 TIE DETROIT LIONS Last rank: 24 Total points: 95
Notes: Jon Kitna has set 10 wins as the goal again, but can they maintain progress despite the offensive overhaul?

27 BALTIMORE RAVENS Last rank: 25 Total points: 86
Notes: Ray Lewis might be in a nursing home before Joe Flacco's ready.

28 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS Last rank: 27 (tie) Total points: 82
Notes: And you thought Mike Nolan was tough. Alex Smith, meet Mr. Martz.

29 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS Last rank: 29 Total points: 50
Notes: Will Herm Edwards still be around to reap this excellent draft's rewards?

30 OAKLAND RAIDERS Last rank: 30 Total points: 49
Notes: The Raiders have skill players aplenty, but what about the trenches?

31 MIAMI DOLPHINS Last rank: 32 Total points: 27
Notes: Next up on Bill Parcells' agenda: What to do with Jason Taylor?

32 ATLANTA FALCONS Last rank: 31 Total points: 24
Notes: Matt Ryan will need lots of time and seasoning before this team takes flight.


at 5/09/2008 1:01 PM Blogger hey hey redlegs said...

we suck can't blame the ranking on anything else. we weren't a good team last year.

at 5/09/2008 1:25 PM Blogger MU Bengal Fan said...

We were also 7-9 last year despite a load of injuries at LB and a general defensive malaise at the start of the season.
Our defense also looks to have a lot of potential going into this year (see Ndukwe and JJ&Leon at the end of last year, namely the Browns game).
Given the teams they put ahead of the Bengals, I'd say 25 is a bit low.

at 5/09/2008 1:28 PM Blogger Money said...

These off season power rankings are a joke. They act like nobody stopped playing. Don't they realize there's free agency, a draft, unmotivated vets, etc. It's like a pre-season poll...worthless until after week four.

at 5/09/2008 1:37 PM Blogger T-Mac said...

I would rank us as #31. No defense or special teams, an OL that is aging and banged up (of which we have signed to long-term deals), no running game and a receiving corp that is in total disarray. Add a head coach who has no control over his team and continues to make questionable in game decisions and the WORST owner in all of sports . . . actually in writing this rant I'm changing my rank to #32!

Good times . . .

at 5/09/2008 2:19 PM Blogger Brandon said...

Is it ok to be afan of two teams and dislike 80% of their fans so much? Comments like that last one are just way to typical from our fellow fans, just a bunch of whining with no statistical backing what so ever. I'm not saying the Bengals are going to the Super Bowl but come on now....

at 5/09/2008 2:20 PM Blogger cincikid said...

"Ohhh....It's hard being a bengals fan...(sigh)." BLAHHHH!!!!

Polls are as stupid as fans that complain about every little acquisition in the off season. Let it go.

I can't wait to see Keith Rivers smashing some grills. J.J. and Hall should be better. The running game is going to be better. Why? Because it has too. That's why. With CJ on the sidelines searching his inner feelings and Chris Henry not creating havoc all off season should be a plus. This year we are definitely going to see a better Carson with young hungry recievers. Houshdaddy is going to be steller. Everyone needs to ease up or head northeast and breakout your black and gold towelettes. Sissies

at 5/09/2008 2:22 PM Blogger Brandon said...

And to answer your question, I personally think in a perfect world of no injuries and playing to potential they would be around the 10 range right now but in all reality based on the status of some of the teams ranked ahead I'd say I would have them around the 17-20 range.

at 5/09/2008 2:52 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with MU Bengal fan. Despite all the injuries at LB, OL, and RB, the team was 7-9. If this team is even moderately healthy, and if Carson is on the field, this team is as good as any.

The fact that there is a healthy Carson Palmer, should easily put the team in the middle of the pack.

at 5/09/2008 5:05 PM Blogger DaTedster said...

Utterly useless. This poll is almost like a popularity contest. I suspect they had the Giants ranked no higher than middle-of-the-pack going into last year. Like the guy said above, it's like they don't take the off season into account and ignore the fact this is all very dynamic with teams improving and declining all the time. It's as if they just looked at the final standings from last year and based it off that. I'll wipe my a$$ with this the next time I move my bowels.

at 5/09/2008 5:24 PM Blogger Carson said...

As fans we may not like it, but T-Mac's comments are right on the money...I'm hoping for a good season, but I don't have real high expectations. Sorry but the past 17 years have really gotten to me.

at 5/09/2008 6:31 PM Blogger kylemack said...

I hope all of the Bengal kool aid drinkers have stepped up to bourbon.
This is a joke of a franchise. Keep spending your $$$ on Bengal tickets.
If you want watch a winner head 2 miles north to Clifton and buy Bearcat season tickets.

at 5/10/2008 9:35 AM Blogger MRBILL said...

These early rankings mean NOTHING...Unless I'm DEAD wrong the Giants were not picked number one last year!!!!

at 5/10/2008 12:28 PM Blogger Another losing season said...

Number 25 is about right although I think San Fran might be better.

The Bengals had such an easy schedule last year and should have been sleep-walking to the playoffs even with the injuries. Instead, they played down to the competition as they always seem to do.

Their schedule this year is very tough and with a new defense, defensive coordinator, new players, etc., we will be treated to another rebuilding year of 5 or 6 victories.

As long as Marvin runs this team, don't expect much more. He may be a good defensive coach but lacks all the intangibles neccesary to make an impact as a head coach.

at 5/10/2008 7:28 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

A combination of all previous comments, aside from a select few, might create something that makes sense. I did a bit of research (OK, just Googled the topic) and came across something interesting:


As some mentioned, the rankings usually turn out irrelevant once the season is over. Proof of that shows the Giants were ranked as No. 20 and the Bengals No. 8 in USA Today's 2007 preseason poll. We all know how the season turned out.

at 5/11/2008 9:35 PM Blogger rugger1 said...

Unfortunately, I think we should all agree the Bengals have not given us any reason for real hope. As long as MB owns the team, we will continue to suffer from a lack of real intense desire to win. How 'bout Castellini to spice things up...

at 5/11/2008 10:00 PM Blogger Steve said...

That high? They're being too kind. We are not a very good team or organization.

at 5/12/2008 11:01 AM Blogger Who dey head hunter said...

The defense was actually at full srength for several games last year so to blame it on defensive injuries is a misnomer. This team is just not very good and the long term outlook is just that... very long term. You have a few good young guys but the bulk of this bad team is old guys where it counts (o-line) with little to no prospetcs behind them.
Look for the GALs to throw a lot of short timing patterns this year to protect Carson. Also look to more running game to also protect the franchise.

Look, point is you can come on here and make every excuse in the world for the GALs but the fact is, they have been very bad for a long time, indicating a systemic failure that is mutually exclusive of any coaches or players. They have changed, sometimes yearly, but one thing has remained the same through the entirety of the double decade slump. I just can't think of any other pro franchise that has been this bad, this long. Even the Kings turned it around. Can you help me with a name?

Move on, support a new team and I promise, you will be much happier. Look at the GALs from the outside, and you will wonder why you ever wasted a moment on a team that cares little about its fans, if at all.

at 5/12/2008 1:33 PM Blogger CanMickCoach? said...

Whats the word on TJ - he will benefit the most IF CJ sits out as threatened.

Plus a contract year - TJ just moved up my fantasy receiver list.

at 5/13/2008 8:36 AM Blogger Jason said...

Hey Mark,
So how are voluntaries looking? I keep reading about a beefed up Rudi, how beefed up? 5lbs, 10lbs? Does it look like he has the meat on him like he did when he could move a pile, instead of going right down?
Did Odell make it today?

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