Here are a few thoughts, observations, and questions heading into Sunday’s game in Jacksonville…
-Will Bobbie Williams start? Williams reportedly lost about 12 pounds during his suspension, so physically he should be in great shape and ready to go. It’s hard to imagine the Bengals would keep him off the field if he’s ready to go. I fully expect Williams to get the start at right guard and his return should give a boost to the running game.
-Will Andy Dalton continue his upward trend? Dalton has put together some nice halves this season but hasn’t been extremely consistent. It would be nice to see him make some continual progress and build on the momentum he created with a sizzling second half against Buffalo.
-Can the defense harass Blaine Gabbert? Jacksonville’s quarterback is making his second start and you would hope the Bengals don’t give him many opportunities to be successful. It starts up front by containing Maurice Jones-Drew. If Gabbert is forced to throw to win, Cincinnati should be in a good spot.
-Will the running back rotation continue? Cincinnati had a nice mix of Bernard Scott, Cedric Benson, and Brian Leonard last week. Hopefully, they can continue that balance in the backfield. I think it’s especially important to give Scott and Leonard more touches to prepare them for the possible suspension of Benson.
-Will we see Andrew Hawkins again this week? Hawkins, who is only about 5-8 made some nice plays in his debut against Buffalo. He’s got some explosiveness and playmaking ability that the Bengals could certainly use. It would be nice to see him get a few more touches in Sunday’s game.
-Can the special teams stay hot? Cincinnati’s kicking game has been extremely solid during the first four weeks, with Mike Nugent hitting a game-winner last week despite Marvin Lewis not trying to get him a few extra yards (what was that all about?). If Cincinnati can continue the formula of solid special teams mixed with great defense and a running game, they should be competitive all season. Should.