CINCINNATI BENGALS – Week 10 – Sunday, November 10th – M&T Bank Stadium
In Week 10, the final division rival comes to town. The Bengals are in a very new situation: they are coming off two playoff appearances. They will look to improve on their back to back wild card losses at the hands of the Houston Texans. The Bengals and their fans seem to be very excited about the coming season and some think they are the favorites to win the AFC North.
As I have said before, this a very important year for the Bengals’ franchise. This is a quarterback league and they need to figure out if they have one. Sure, Andy Dalton has made the playoffs twice, but so has Mark Sanchez. Dalton has thrown for a combined 4 interceptions in those two games. The Bengals need to figure out if this is the guy for them to move forward with. They cannot win in the NFL with a mediocre quarterback. This is the year to figure out exactly what Dalton is to the franchise.
Biggest Addition: James Harrison could provide a great boost to an already outstanding line. The Bengals had one of the best pass rushes in the league last year and having a healthy James Harrison will only improve this. This unit could be scary.
Biggest Loss: None. The Bengals had 4 top 100 free agents according to CBSSports.com and they were able to keep them all. They will need to work out a long term deal with Michael Johnson if they hope to keep him beyond this year.
Rookie To Watch For: Tyler Eifert was a player that slipped a little in the first round and the Bengals were able to nab him. Great pick for Cincy, as they got best player on the board and more weapons for Andy Dalton.
CHICAGO BEARS – Week 11 – Sunday, November 17rd – Solider Field
In Week 11, the Ravens make the trip to the Windy City to play the Bears. There is truly nothing like a game on the banks of Lake Michigan. The Bears are a team in transition as they have fired their long term head coach, Lovie Smith. They have brought in Canadian Football’s Tom Landry in Marc Trestman. The Bears are hoping that Trestman will be the Jay Cutler whisperer to get their franchise quarterback on track.
The Bears will only go as far as their offensive line takes them this year. Cutler struggled to stay on his feet last year, which led to another year without playoffs. The Bears are also entering their first season in over a decade without Brian Urlacher who announced his retirement Wednesday. We shall see how the Bears are able to respond to this change.
Biggest Addition: Jerome Bushrod has spent his previous seasons protecting Drew Brees. In the off-season, the Bears were able to sign him via free agency to a five-year deal in hopes of keeping Jay Cutler off the ground.
Biggest Loss: D.J. Moore was blossoming into a solid defensive back in the Bears’ system. He has 10 interceptions in his short career, but due to cap constraints has moved on to the Carolina Panthers.
Rookie To Watch For: Kyle Long has not played all that much football in his career, but has impressed when in the game. The Bears drafted him 20th overall and Mike Mayock believes that he will be able to start right away. He will start as a guard, but in the future the Bears could have designs on him becoming a franchise left tackle.
In the next installment, we will take a look at the Ravens’ Week 12 and 13 opponents – the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.