Wednesday, October 27, 2010
How I See It: AFC North Stock Watch
By James Walker
1. Cincinnati Bengals: There's no reason to pinpoint one player, because this is a team-wide failing. Whether it's receivers running the wrong routes, the defense missing tackles, or the offensive linemen not knowing the snap count, the Bengals are making various mistakes during their three-game losing streak. This will be a huge challenge for Bengals coach Marvin Lewis to get this team back on track after a 2-4 start. In a must-win game, the Bengals will host the angry Miami Dolphins (3-3), who suffered a controversial loss last week to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
2. Fabian Washington, Baltimore Ravens cornerback: Washington, who has played decent football this season, had his worst game as a Raven Sunday in an overtime win over the Buffalo Bills. Washington gave up three touchdowns and was benched in the fourth quarter in favor of backup Josh Wilson. Cornerback is one of the league's toughest positions, so every player has days like this. But Washington has to prove last week's game was a fluke if he wants to keep his job.
3. Ravens' pass rush: Washington had a bad game, but the front seven on defense didn't help. It's concerning that Baltimore's pass rush couldn't get through against the worst team in the NFL. Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw the ball 43 times and was only sacked once. Lack of pressure is one reason Fitzpatrick was able to torch Baltimore's secondary for 374 passing yards and four touchdowns. Pass rush has been an issue in Baltimore for the past couple of seasons. I thought this year the Ravens would be more consistent, but that hasn't been the case.
David Bowens' two interceptions returned for scores were key in Cleveland's upset win over the Saints.
2. Carson Palmer, Bengals quarterback: Despite the Bengals getting off to a slow start, Palmer had the type of game many expect from the $100-million quarterback. He threw for 412 yards and three touchdowns in a loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Palmer seems more at home in the no-huddle offense, which was used nearly the entire game against Atlanta. Palmer has been part of the problem at different points this season, but that certainly wasn't the case last Sunday. The Bengals' offense will continue to score points if Palmer plays at this level.
3. Ray Lewis, Ravens linebacker: Baltimore gave up a lot of points to Buffalo. But Lewis was all over the field, recording 15 tackles and a sack. The future Hall of Famer also got a crucial strip in overtime that set up Baltimore's game-winning field goal. Lewis and the Ravens are 5-2 but have a lot to correct during their bye week. Baltimore will play Miami on Nov. 7.