1) You have to walk away from the Broncos game encouraged. Andy Dalton looked like an elite quarterback, A.J. Green looked like an elite wide receiver, and the team battled back from early deficits to make things interesting at the end. There may not be an abundance of wins this season, but you have to like the character of this club and its potential for the future.
2) The AFC North is presently wide open with all four teams tied at 1-1. However, if you were looking at nothing other than the schedules, Cincinnati is in the early clubhouse lead. The Bengals are 1-0 in the division (a key tiebreaker) and have played both of their games on the road. The other three teams have had a home game.
3) I think it’s time to open up contract extension talks with Jerome Simpson. Certainly, his sample size (i.e. games played) is not ideal, but he has done enough to prove that he is an above-average receiver. With Simpson, A.J. Green, Gresham, Shipley (who may have a significant injury), Whitworth, Cook, and Dalton locked up for the immediate future, this offense could be set for years to come. Plus, getting Simpson to extend early might provide some sort of discount. And we all know Mike Brown wants that.
4) If you didn’t see the graphic during the game, Cincinnati’s upcoming schedule certainly gives them a chance to compete. Home games with San Francisco and Buffalo are up next, followed by a road game with the Jaguars and a home contest with the Kerry Collins Colts. Then, there’s a bye week and two more winnable road games. The Bengals should not – SHOULD not – play themselves out of contention anytime soon.
5) I need more from the defense. Expect the defense to play better at home – don’t they always? – but the unit has the looks of a bend, but don’t break group at times. Perhaps the return of players from injury could help, but that won’t happen for a while yet. The unit will have to border on dominance to give the team a chance against Baltimore and Pittsburgh. I think the group might be capable of that, but they didn’t exactly look it yesterday.