Oh baby, two home games in a row. That makes my giblets tingle. Coming off last weeks victory I'm looking for the crowd to be really hyped up this week for the game (assuming the never-ending midwest rain stops). The Bengals are favored by about a field goal again primarily on the basis of being at home, and I'll take that. Frankly, this is a really interesting matchup of two teams with very contrasting styles. We're gonna break it down for ya, but first I want to say this: I stand by my statement from one of my picks about a dome team playing outdoors on the road: they struggle.
Palmer/Bengals WR's vs. Falcons DB's
Let's stop on this one first. It's been a fun week in the 'Nati with The Real Chad Johnson returning to the fold. He's been banged up and stopped running his mouth but this week he came back with a vengance. Dante Hall is now nicknamed Dante "Fall" and he has nicknamed himself "Ocho Cinco" which is a poor attempt at saying eighty five in Spanish (ochenta y cinco, homie). However, it's almost better that way. I've never really weighed in on CJ here so let me just say this: he's great. Great player, great to the fans, great to the city and has nothing but fun playing the game. But, his biggest asset is that he's so goddamned likeable. Even Joey Porter can't muster up a real hatred for this guy (and I'm pretty sure he hates puppies). So, everybody laughs him off and forgets that he's a badass WR. That said, nobody ever claimed Chad was a genius. Ocho Cinco? Good times.
(Side note: should Henry come back? I say no, even if it's the detriment of the team. He's a dumbfuck. Play Chris Perry at WR, that would throw off some defenses.)
Bengals OL vs. Falcons DL
Best I can tell, there will be no more "shuffling" on the line this week. I guess that's a good thing, but it really just means that everybody is still hurt. I'm still going to stay concerned about this unit until they put together a full game, unlike last week. From a pure matchup perspective, the Falcons (last I played Madden) play a 3-4 so maybe they don't run the risk of getting overpowered. This week they'll just be slow. Does anybody like the idea of a rookie LT trying to block a blitzing Keith Brooking? (Don't answer that) Update: I just checked and according to espn.com the Falcons play a base 4-3. Stupid Madden 2005. Anyway, as luck would have it John Abraham (not the Jewish Abraham, the huge DE one) is out with an injury. Hooray! I fully encourage good players to get injured right before they play the Bengals, in case you were wondering.
Rudi Johnson vs. Falcons LB
Atlanta is middle-of-the-pack against the run giving up 98.5 ypg (look who did some research!) which tells me that they are probably vulnerable but you have to be persistent. I think the coaching staff is smart enough to do this, assuming they're not down by two scores or anything. I mentioned Brooking before, but he's gotta be one of the few badass white dudes in the game today. Basically it's him, Urlacher and Tiki Barber. Anyway, I predict Rudi has 103 yards. I ran the math on that one. It's complicated, just trust me.
Nonexistent Falcons Passing Game vs. Bengals DB's
Let's just say I feel pretty good about this category. By the way, the Falcons are just now starting to use the shotgun more often? Seriously? Are they trying to be the 2005 Texas Longhorns? Is next year the year that they finally pickup a QB in the second round with tons of upside (think Romo) and the fans start calling for Vick's head? Seems imminent.
Falcons OL vs. Bengals DL
Shoot, I don't know anything about other teams' OL. I do see that they have Todd McClure playing center. You may remember him from such football games as: last week AND the week before that, along with such football teams as: the Louisiana State Tigers.
Falcons Running Game vs. Bengals LB/DL/DB
Save the worst for last. Aieee this is scary. The Bengals haven't been able to stop anybody on the ground this year and Atlanta is by far the most proficient team rushing in the entire leaue. There was one moment last week where my inner dialogue took over and I screamed like a girl "tackle goddamnit!!" Too many of those moments and it could be a long day. Sam Adams should "accidentally" fall on Warrick Dunn a couple times. Cruch.
There you have it. I'm predicting another nail-biter. And please, no rain. Tell St. Louis they can keep it.