AFC West: Cincinnati Bengals

Broncos vs. Bengals preview

December, 19, 2014
When: 8:30 p.m. ET Monday Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati TV: ESPN

Peyton Manning is good. Under the lights, the Cincinnati Bengals are not.

But if the Bengals have plans of joining the Denver Broncos as a playoff-bound team, they will have to overcome the future Hall of Fame quarterback and put to rest their atrocious recent prime-time showing.

Since 2011, the year Andy Dalton became its starting quarterback, Cincinnati is 2-9 in nationally televised playoff games and night games on Monday, Thursday and Sunday nights.

Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold and Bengals reporter Coley Harvey are here to preview this week's "Monday Night Football" game:

Harvey: Manning is 8-0 against the Bengals, including a 3-0 mark against them in December. He has thrown 10 touchdowns and no interceptions against them in December. For the Bengals to have any hope of stopping him, what are two things their defense must do?

Legwold: As an opposing defensive coach told me this season, "I don't know why anybody needs to list the stats for him; let's just assume they're good against everybody and go from there." Manning has won at least eight games against 10 different teams in his career. And defensively, the formula is not complicated, yet difficult to do. Defenses who succeed against him generally create some kind of consistent pressure in the middle of the field -- they win the A gaps -- keeping him from setting his feet, and they don't give him room to climb the pocket to step into his throws. Those defenses also limit the Broncos' ability to use their variety of crossing routes. They play physically against the Broncos' receivers and limit yards after the catch because they tackle well. Not rocket science, but difficult to do because the Broncos are creative in play design. Manning delivers the ball quickly and consistently makes defenses pay for sending extra rushers (game video shows Manning had five completions this past weekend against the Chargers' blitz for 111 yards and a touchdown). So, a defense has to get all of that done largely by rushing four players, and it can't miss assignments behind that rush.

Defending a rookie in his first NFL start is one thing, and the Bengals did well in a 30-0 win against the Cleveland Browns with Johnny Manziel behind center last week, but how do you expect them to defend Manning?

Harvey: You just summed it up perfectly, Leggy. I'll add this. A defense can best stop Manning by sending a standard four-man rush and hope and pray the coverage downfield holds up. Last week, in fact, this was exactly what allowed the Bengals to bully Manziel. Only twice did they send blitzes on the mobile young quarterback. The rest of the time, they did exactly what you prescribed: They attacked the A gaps with great interior pressure from the line and forced Manziel to roll to his right. Obviously, Manning isn't rolling anywhere, but the Bengals have to hope Geno Atkins is up to pushing back the line the way he has finally started doing in recent weeks. With the Bengals also expected to use a lot of nickel defense to counter the Broncos' multi-receiver and tight end looks, don't be surprised if defensive end Wallace Gilberry goes inside to give some extra athleticism to the interior rush.

Jeff, it seems like over the past seven weeks, running back C.J. Anderson has exploded onto the scene for Denver. First, why did it take so long to get him involved in the run game, and second, what did Buffalo do so well to hold him in check two weeks ago?

Legwold: During the Broncos' offseason work, especially in minicamp, there was some thought around the team that Anderson's spot was pretty tenuous and that he might not make the roster because he had tried to bulk up a bit and looked sluggish. Anderson showed up to training camp leaner and looked far better, but Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman had already pushed their way in front of him. Anderson had routinely flashed in practice and in his limited game work, at least enough to stay in the mix, and when injuries forced the Broncos to hand him the ball, he showed patience and vision as a runner -- perhaps more than they thought he had -- and he almost always made the first defender miss or powered through the attempted tackle. If you're looking for a play that got everybody's attention, it was his 51-yard catch-and-run touchdown in Oakland when he made a one-handed grab on a screen pass -- a play Manning said he thought was "going to be a 1- or 2-yard loss" -- and five different Raiders had a chance to bring Anderson down and did not. In terms of Buffalo's plan, it was a sound group that was assignment-disciplined and tackled well; defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has faced Manning plenty over the years because of Schwartz's time with the Titans. The Bills came into the game against the Broncos leading the league in sacks, and they didn't sack Manning in the game. Anderson did pound the ball into the end zone three times, but his 2.8 yards per carry were the lowest since he became starter.

The Bengals are one of six teams averaging more than 30 rushing attempts per game this season; the Broncos are No. 2 in run defense. Do you think the Bengals will still try to pound away some to limit the Broncos' possessions, or because they believe they will be able to make some running room?

Harvey: One of the Bengals' most recent additions is NFL Players Association president Eric Winston, an offensive tackle who, before coming to Cincinnati three weeks ago, spent six seasons with the Texans and one with the Chiefs. He had an up-close look at Manning twice a season during the Texans' AFC South games when the quarterback still played for the Colts, and saw him twice in Kansas City in 2012. This week, Winston said those teams' mindset against Manning always involved running. So yes, I believe the run should, and will, be the Bengals' approach. Besides, Jeremy Hill has been running well in the past six weeks, topping 140 yards three times in that span. His hard running and guard Kevin Zeitler's constant pulling made for a nightmare day for Cleveland's defense. Also, I noticed that of the four times this season when teams have run 25 or more times against Denver, they beat the Broncos three times. To me, Cincinnati's best hope of winning is to run well, run often, get a late lead, and play keep-away from Manning.

Jeff, I'm sure the Broncos' many pass-rushers will be hounding Dalton all night, but why has Denver's front seven been so good against the run?

Legwold: Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton is -- even nationally, perhaps -- an undervalued player when it comes to what he means to the Broncos' run defense. He's disruptive, ties up blockers and doesn't get turned in the hole. He stays square and takes away run lanes. The Broncos also have plenty of team speed across the front and pursue the ball well. Even their pass-rushers, like DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller, are disciplined in their run fits. Ware especially has shown himself to be reliable in how he sets the edge, and as a result, offenses haven't been able to run the ball to the inside shoulders of Ware and Miller because they play with some vision as they move up the field. That wasn't always the case earlier in Miller's career, when offenses would catch him at times being a little too aggressive as he tried to get upfield. The Broncos have tackled well for the most part, too. They have helped themselves with good work on first down, as well. Offenses are routinely facing second-and-8 or third-and-7, and that takes those offenses out of any rhythm to run. For example, the Chargers ran the ball 10 times on first down last Sunday. Only one of the runs went for more than five yards -- an 11-yard run by Branden Oliver early in the fourth quarter -- and six went for three or fewer yards.

Few players take as much heat for their prime-time and/or postseason performance as Dalton. Is there significantly more pressure on him in this one given it is the "Monday Night Football" regular-season finale and the Bengals need the win to keep the inside track for a shot at the division title?

Harvey: It's more of the latter, Jeff. The pressure will be raised on Dalton this week because the Bengals simply have to get it done. Though there is an outside shot they will sneak into the playoffs as an AFC wild card if they lose the next two games, they would do themselves so many favors if they won at least one. The finale at Pittsburgh next week won't be a cakewalk, either. The heat Dalton has taken is real and deserved. It seems like he's mostly great at 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoons. But turn on the lights and he's not. From a personal standpoint, Dalton wants to make up for his last nationally televised outing. The Bengals lost to Cleveland 24-3 in a Thursday night game last month in which Dalton registered a 2.0 passer rating.

ALAMEDA, Calif. --Oakland Raiders potential franchise quarterback Derek Carr can make up for some lost time Thursday in the preseason finale against visiting Seattle.

Carr, a second-round pick, is set to start. Oakland coach Dennis Allen said he expects Carr to get extensive playing time. Carr didn't play last week at Green Bay because he was nursing a rib injury. He was also suffered a concussion in the second preseason game against Detroit, but he was cleared after a couple of days.

The Raiders expect starter Matt Schaub to be ready to start Week 1 at the New York Jets in 11 days, although he has missed the past three days of practice with a sore elbow. If Schaub has a setback, Carr is the No. 2 quarterback and would be in line to start.

"He needs the experience," Oakland coach Dennis Allen said of Carr. "So for him to be able to get out there against a really good defense and get some more game experience will be a big part of his development."

Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Olson is encouraged by Carr because he looks like he belongs in an NFL offense. The task doesn't appear to be too big for the former Fresno State standout.

"I've said it from Day 1, the guy's comfortable in the huddle," Olson said. "I don't think the game's too fast for him, which a lot of times, that's a big concern with a rookie quarterback."

The Raiders hope they can continue to say that after the preseason closes.
Join us at 1 p.m. ET, 10 a.m. PT today for ESPN’s NFL Nation TV’s Spreecast episode No. 12. Host Paul Gutierrez (Oakland Raiders reporter), co-host Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and guests Eric Williams (San Diego Chargers reporter) and Mike Triplett (New Orleans Saints reporter) discuss a range of topics from the pending decision on Jimmy Graham's franchise tag grievance to Johnny Manziel's latest escapades to Randy Moss getting the coaching bug, among other issues. Viewers are encouraged to log in and ask the panelists questions and contribute in the chat feature in the box atop the video player.

Join us today at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, for ESPN's NFL Nation TV's Spreecast episode No. 10. Host Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and guests Mike Triplett (New Orleans Saints reporter) and Pat McManamon (Cleveland Browns reporter) discuss a range of topics from Jimmy Graham's grievance hearing to determine if he's a receiver or tight end, to Aaron Rodgers' admiration of Johnny Manziel, to Hall of Fame coach Chuck Noll's impact on the league in wake of his death late last week. Co-host Paul Gutierrez (Oakland Raiders) is off this week. Viewers are encouraged to log in and ask the panelists questions as well as contribute in the chat feature at the top of the viewing box below.


Upon Further Review: Chargers-Bengals

January, 5, 2014
PM ET NFL Nation reporters Eric Williams and Coley Harvey break down the San Diego Chargers' 27-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in the wild-card round of the AFC playoffs.

Live blog: Chargers at Bengals

January, 5, 2014
Join our NFL experts for playoff football between the San Diego Chargers and the Cincinnati Bengals on wild-card weekend.

Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at noon ET. See you there.

The last time the San Diego Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals met, both teams were missing key players, they played in a local TV blackout, and they could comfortably compete on a 60-degree, postcard-perfect Southern California afternoon.

Those were the conditions just one month ago Wednesday.

At least one of them could be the same. With ticket uncertainty rolling over into Thursday, Bengals officials have been working hard to avoid the NFL's first postseason blackout since 2002. On the field, the Bengals and Chargers have been working to get back key members of their teams, and are anticipating playing in conditions much less favorable than what they had on the West Coast.

Sunday's playoff game isn't only a rematch of the regular-season game won 17-10 by the Bengals. It also marks the first time the teams have met in the postseason since 1981, when Cincinnati beat San Diego for the AFC championship at old Riverfront Stadium. Because of a minus-59 wind chill, that game was dubbed the "Freezer Bowl." While it shouldn't feel that cold Sunday, conditions will be tough. Snow, freezing rain and rapidly dipping temperatures are in the forecast. The weather could make passing difficult for two teams that rely heavily on their quarterbacks.

To break down Sunday's game, we turn to NFL reporters Eric D. Williams (Chargers) and Coley Harvey (Bengals).

Harvey: One of the Bengals' biggest keys in the first meeting was running the ball. They rushed for 164 yards, having success even late in the game when San Diego clearly knew a run was coming. How can the Chargers prevent Cincinnati from having another prolific ground game?

Williams: First, the Chargers will have two players available who did not play in the first game -- outside linebackers Jarret Johnson and Melvin Ingram. Both are pretty good run defenders who should help San Diego play more physical up front. Second, the Chargers have to do a better job of maintaining their gaps and not allowing Cincinnati’s talented offensive line to create space for the running backs. Last, the Chargers have to do a better job of wrapping up BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard. Both running backs finished with a lot of yards after contact, as San Diego had trouble bringing down the hard runners in the back end of the defense.

One thing I'm curious about is the Bengals' defense. The Bengals are tied for third in the league in turnovers forced with 31, and have six defensive touchdowns this season, all at Paul Brown Stadium. Why has Cincinnati’s defense been so successful at creating turnovers?

Harvey: If you ask defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer -- which we did Monday -- he'll say it's because his players just know they have to do whatever is necessary to pick the offense up and to put the ball back in its hands. There have been several instances when a turnover put the Bengals' defense on the wrong side of the 50, needing to come up with a stop. Defensive players say they relish those opportunities, and believe in their ability to not only hold for a field goal, but get the ball back. Cincinnati's defensive line plays a major role in helping create a lot of the fumbles and interceptions. Even after losing Pro Bowl tackle Geno Atkins, the defensive line has still pressured opposing quarterbacks, forcing poorly thrown balls. The line and linebackers also do a great job of stripping balls and forcing timely fumbles.

I'll add that there is something slightly different about the defense at home. When it comes to turnovers, for example, 21 of the 31 forced by the defense have come at Paul Brown Stadium. As you mentioned, six have resulted in scores. Each of those scores either changed momentum or helped ice the game.

How much do you think playing the Bengals just 35 days ago will benefit the Chargers? They clearly learned something from that loss, and haven’t lost since.

Williams: That is correct -- the Chargers are on a four-game winning streak since losing to the Bengals on Dec. 1. Defensively the Chargers have been stingy, holding teams to just 18 points a contest in the past four games. San Diego has played more consistently on offense, particularly in the red zone, scoring touchdowns instead of field goals. And the Chargers are playing with more confidence now than earlier in the season. Chargers coach Mike McCoy has figured out a blueprint for his team to win on both offense and defense -- a prolific, ball-control offense paired with a bend-but-don’t-break defense that keeps teams out of the end zone.

Philip Rivers finished the regular season tops in the NFL in completion percentage (69.5), fourth in touchdown passes (32) and fifth in passing yards (4,478). The Bengals did a nice job containing Rivers in the first matchup. What will it take for a repeat performance?

Harvey: It's going to take a lot of pressure, and some tight coverage both downfield and near the line of scrimmage. Bengals cornerback Terence Newman was telling reporters this week about what he felt made Rivers special -- his intelligence. As an 11-year veteran, Newman has seen it all. According to Newman, what is most impressive is Rivers' ability to use his eyes to steer linebackers or safeties one way, only to pass another because he knows he has a tight end or running back open in a soft spot the defense isn't covering. Newman stopped short of comparing Rivers to Peyton Manning, but he believes the two have much in common. Members of the Bengals' secondary know they can't just key on his eyes, they have to know where his playmakers are at all times. Members of the Bengals' line know they have to keep hounding Rivers like they have hounded quarterbacks all season.

Rivers is San Diego's household name, but how important have running back Ryan Mathews and receiver Keenan Allen been to the offense?

Williams: The Chargers leaned heavily on Mathews during the second half of the season, with good results. San Diego is 7-1 this season when Mathews has at least 19 carries. He has carried the ball at least 24 times in the past four games, all wins for San Diego. Allen finished the season with 71 receptions for a team-leading 1,046 yards, becoming the first rookie since Cincinnati’s A.J. Green to finish with 1,000 receiving yards. Green had 1,057 in 2011. Mathews keeps defenses honest with his bruising running style, and Allen emerged as Rivers’ go-to receiver when San Diego gets near the red zone. Allen is tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions with eight.

We've seen the good (33 touchdowns) and the bad (20 interceptions) from Andy Dalton this season. What type of performance do you expect from Dalton on Sunday? And will it matter if he does not play well?

Harvey: Because of how good this defense is, especially at home, I'm not sure it will matter if he plays well Sunday. Last week against the Ravens, Dalton threw four interceptions -- the first came 1 yard outside Baltimore's red zone -- and the defense ended up acting as an eraser and pretending the turnovers never happened. The one interception that came on Cincinnati's 21 resulted in a field goal. An interception on the following drive also resulted in a field goal. Instead of being down 14-0 early, the Bengals trailed 6-0, giving Dalton enough confidence to calm down and make plays when he needed to as the comeback began. I'm expecting another mixed bag from Dalton. Just like last week, he has shown this season that he can pass for 270 yards, three touchdowns and still have three interceptions. I wouldn't be surprised if his nerves are elevated a little at the start of the game, but as long as the defense keeps playing the way it has been and his receivers are not dropping passes, I believe Dalton will come out OK on Sunday.


Week 12 stats to know

November, 23, 2012
A key statistic, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, for each AFC West team heading into Week 12:


Quarterback Peyton Manning, 36, is on pace to have the most yards, touchdown passes and have the highest completion percentage of any quarterback 36 or older in NFL history.

Kansas City

The Chiefs are minus-21 in turnover margin. It is the worst margin of any NFL team through 10 games since the 1970 Buffalo Bills.


Carson Palmer has thrown an interception in each of the past six games. The last time he threw interceptions in seven straight games was in 2004 with the Bengals. The Raiders visit the Bengals on Sunday.

San Diego

Tight end Antonio Gates is struggling. He is averaging just 39.4 receiving yards a game. It is the 16th highest among tight ends in the league.

Final Word: AFC West

November, 2, 2012
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 9:

Peyton Manning’s arm strength is fine: This makes you wonder how much pain Manning, who leads the Broncos to Cincinnati this week, was in during the 2010 season. He missed all of 2011 with a neck injury that led to four surgeries. In 2010, his final season with the Colts, Manning completed 27.6 percent of his throws longer than 20 yards, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In his first seven games this season, Manning is completing 51.9 percent of such throws. His accuracy is clearly better on deep throws post-surgery.

[+] EnlargeSebastian Janikowski
AP Photo/Ed ZurgaRaiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski hasn't missed from inside 40 yards in more than two years.
Scoring when it counts: Oakland has been terrific in the final two minutes of the first half. The Raiders -- who host Tampa Bay on Sunday -- have scored in the final two minutes of the first half in every game this season, notching three touchdowns and four field goals. Even more impressive, five of the scores have come with 49 or fewer seconds remaining.

Automatic from 40: If kicker Sebastian Janikowski lines up for a field goal attempt from 40 yards or shorter Sunday, just book three points for Oakland. Seabass is going to make it. He has made 43 consecutive field goals from inside 40 yards dating back to September 2010. Janikowski is 18-of-19 on field goal attempts this season. His only miss was a 64-yarder at the end of regulation against Jacksonville, a game Oakland won in overtime on a Janikowski field goal.

Denver goes tight end heavy: The Broncos had great success using multiple-tight end sets against New Orleans. I’d imagine they will try the same at Cincinnati on Sunday. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Manning was 16-of-20 for 252 yards and two touchdowns with two or more tight ends against the Saints. It was the most he'd played using multiple tight ends since 2008.

Broncos’ schedule easing: Going in the season, the Broncos had the second-toughest schedule in the NFL. Now, the meat of the schedule is behind Denver, which leads the AFC West at 4-3. The Broncos’ remaining opponents have a combined record of 22-42 -- giving Denver the easiest remaining schedule in the league.
On the eve of the NFL draft, Mel Kiper Insider and Todd McShay Insider (his is a complete seven-round mock) have offered mock drafts in Insider pieces. Let’s check out their AFC West choices:

No. 11, Kansas City

Kiper pick: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford

McShay pick: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

My take: In our bloggers live mock draft Monday, I went with DeCastro. I think the Chiefs will believe he is a safer pick than Poe. He has scared some teams off because of a lack of college production.

No. 18, San Diego

Kiper pick: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

McShay pick: DeCastro

My take: These are two interesting picks. I think, in Kiper’s scenario, Poe may be a more needed pick team Reiff, although Reiff would be a good value pick. I love DeCastro as a choice, but in McShay’s scenario, I might take North Carolina pass-rusher Quinton Coples because of need. Either way, these drafts fall pretty well for San Diego.

No. 25, Denver

Kiper pick: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

McShay pick: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

My take: I think both of these mocks are on par. If Brockers is available, he will likely be the choice. If not, Worthy is a smart pick. Denver would be happy either way.

Oakland traded the No. 17 pick to Cincinnati in a package for quarterback Carson Palmer.
Michael Bush may be taking his first steps out of Oakland.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that the running back is visiting Chicago on Wednesday and he has a visit scheduled with Cincinnati on Monday. Bush would be a complement to Matt Forte in Chicago and he would reunite with former Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell if he signs with the Bears. Campbell signed with the Bears on Tuesday.

The Bengals -- who have $40 million-plus in salary-cap room -- have long been considered a potential suitor of Bush. Schefter also reports the Bengals are planning a visit with New England running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Former Oakland coach Hue Jackson is an assistant coach in Cincinnati.

If Bush doesn’t sign with the Bears or the Bengals, there could be AFC West interest in him. Kansas City is visiting with Cleveland’s Peyton Hillis and the Chargers’ Mike Tolbert. If interest in those players falls through, the Chiefs could show interest in Bush. If Tolbert doesn’t come back to San Diego, the Chargers could try to get Bush. They tried to trade for him three years ago. Denver could also show interest in Bush.

Bush finished last season as the Raiders’ starter because of a season-ending foot injury to Darren McFadden. Oakland opted against giving Bush the franchise tag and instead placed it on safety Tyvon Branch. That was the right call because Branch is a starter and the Raiders have greater needs on defense.

Oakland would like to bring the bruising Bush back, but it may be unlikely.
In Insider pieces, we are offering a double dose of mock drafts. Both Mel Kiper Insider and Todd McShay Insider offer new mock first-round drafts. Let’s check out their choices for the AFC West teams:

11. Kansas City:

Kiper: Luke Kuechly, MLB, Boston College

McShay: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

My take: This is interesting. Kiper has Richardson being off the board when the Chiefs pick and McShay having them taking advantage of him falling down the board. Richardson would be a luxury pick for the Chiefs, but he would give them a nasty offense and a great backfield partner for Jamaal Charles. Kuechly is a safe pick, who should be there for the Chiefs at No. 11. I think he could be the pick.

18. San Diego

Kiper: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

McShay: Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia

My take: I like the Mercilus pick. The Chargers need a pass-rusher badly. He led the NCAA in sacks last season. However, the presence of Stanford guard David DeCastro may be tempting because of the retirement of Kris Dielman. I know the Chargers are planning on Tyronne Green taking over for Dielman, but DeCastro is a special talent. I think we’ll learn more about the Chargers’ direction with this pick after the first wave of free agency.

25. Denver

Kiper: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.

McShay: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

My take: I think both Kiper and McShay are on the right track here. I think defensive tackle will be the position Denver looks at first. If Cox is on the board, I think he will be the first choice unless Memphis’ Dontari Poe unexpectedly falls.

Oakland traded its first-round pick (No. 17) to Cincinnati as part of the trade for quarterback Carson Palmer.

AFC West notes

March, 2, 2012
The Indianapolis Star is reporting that Peyton Manning has been throwing better. Manning could be cut by the Colts within the next six days since he's owed a $28 million roster bonus on March 8. If he becomes available, the Chiefs will monitor his progress.

The Football Outsiders believe Insider San Diego free-agent receiver Vincent Jackson would be a perfect fit in Chicago to team up with former AFC West rival Jay Cutler.

Raiders running back Michael Bush is likely on the way out in free agency. One possible destination to keep an keep an eye on: Cincinnati. The Bengals are expected to pursue a running back.

The Steelers cut Chris Kemoeatu. He is a massive guard who could attract interest from the Chargers if they decide to go the free-agent route to replace the recently retired Kris Dielman. Kemoeatu has been injury-plagued and his level of play has gone down some. The Chargers may opt to give backup Tyronne Green a chance to start.
Former Oakland cornerback Stanford Routt may have a home soon.

According to two league sources, Routt could sign with a team as soon as Monday. The Kansas City Chiefs are one of the teams in the mix for Routt. He visited the Chiefs, along with the Bengals and Bills. There were not any other reported visits. It is feasible that other teams -- the Titans, perhaps -- could still be involved.

If the Chiefs sign Routt, it will be an indication that the team will not re-sign free-agent cornerback Brandon Carr. He will be popular on the free-agent market.

I will be traveling and out of pocket for a few hours later Monday. If the Routt news breaks during that time period, I will have reaction later Monday.
The Cincinnati Bengals are next to host former Oakland cornerback Stanford Routt, a player in whom the Kansas City Chiefs are also interested.

The Bengals might have gotten a boost in their pursuit of Routt on Friday with the hiring of former Oakland head coach Hue Jackson as a defensive-backs and special-teams assistant.

Though Jackson has an offensive background, I fully expect that he will try to sell Routt on working with him again. Going to a team where his former head coach is employed may appeal to Routt.

Routt will meet with the Bengals after visiting the Bills and the Chiefs; he spent two days with Kansas City this week. I wouldn’t think the Chiefs are out of the Routt picture because he is visiting another team. Routt, cut by Oakland last week, is in a position of strength. Because free agency starts March 13, the 28-year-old can take his time and make several visits while weighing his options.

The Jackson hire in Cincinnati adds a new wrinkle to Routt’s decision.

In other AFC West news:

Tebow-mania hit the UCLA campus this week as Tim Tebow worked on his mechanics there this week with Bruins offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. Mark Kreidler has a column on the never-ending quest to fix Tebow’s mechanics.

Insider In an Insider piece, ESPN’s Chris Sprow offers suggestions on what the Broncos should do with Tebow and other thoughts on the needs of the other three teams in the AFC West. has a free-agent match for each team in the NFL. Kansas City cornerback Brandon Carr is a popular one.