10 QUESTIONS: Patriots vs Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals are off to one of the best starts in team history and look to continue the trend against the New England Patriots on Sunday. Bengals Insider Tim Eisenhut -- publisher of Bengals Insider on Scout.com, and noted Fantasy football writer -- discusses the Bengals recent spate of legal troubles, Chad Johnson's antics and why these Bengals should defeat the Patriots this week.

10 QUESTIONS: Patriots vs Bengals October 1, 2006

Bengals Insider Tim Eisenhut is this week's guest on 10 questions.

1) Is Chad Johnson really as out of control as he seems from his press conferences, or is it more of a big show to him?

The antics you see out of CJ are just Chad being Chad. Sure, it is a big show to him, but he's still a good guy. He likes to have fun, but more importantly - Chad wants to win and is a team player.

2) Are the Bengals for real at 3-0 or is their record a byproduct of the teams they've played or fortunate breaks?

Absolutely, the Bengals for real! This Bengal team is similar to the Colts...but about two years behind. Don't be surprised to see the Colts and Bengals battle for the top AFC spot in Indianapolis on Dec. 18th...a potential Monday Night Football blockbuster.

3) What's the strongest part of the Bengals team? What do they do better than everything else?

Palmer is a top caliber quarterback with top wide receivers. The Cincinnati running game is effective with a strong North-South runner (Rudi Johnson). And the defense is progressing nicely with good coaching. All of this said, the best thing going for the Bengals is the fact that they're young and learning together. And they'll be together for a while...Cincinnati has nearly all of their top positions signed through 2009.

4) What the biggest area weakness that other teams have been able to exploit?

The Bengals need continued work on their defense (especially against the run). Off-season acquisition DT Sam Adams helped, but the run defense is still a glaring weakness. On the offensive side of the ball, the team is missing versatility at the running back position (a big difference between Bengals offense and Colts) and missing a strong tight end. Opposing defenses are able to focus strictly upon the wide receiving corps without a TE and a pass catching back.

5) How well is the organization handling the recent spate of player run-ins with the Law?

Lousy...it keeps happening. But the problem was brought upon by a risky draft strategy. There is a reason that other teams steered clear of several Bengal draft choices over the last couple of years. These guys had recorded issues long before they were NFL players. Hopefully Lewis will learn that he can't change everyone.

6) Was the Odell Thurman suspension a big surprise? And how have the players replacing him fared?

No, not a surprise at all. In fact, it was just a matter of time. Same thing happened with Rucker, Nicholson, Henry, etc. See above...

7) What has been the toughest opponent and what makes you say that?

Pittsburgh. The Steelers have been the team's nemesis for many years. Cincinnati (and their fans) need to get over an anxiety brought about by a long rivalry. This year may be a change of tide and an indication of the next several years. Overcoming their historic foe (Steelers) will help confidence and boost the team to a new level.

8) Matt Cassel told us a little about his former college teammate (and roommate) Carson Palmer and what he brings to the table. Do you see a major difference in Palmers play this season compared to last season? Has he recovered well from the knee injury?

There isn't a big change in Palmer's ability from last season. In fact, many don't realize the Palmer led the NFL in quarterback stats last year. Carson is a big, talented young quarterback that continues to learn his NFL position and learn the league...and he
is continuously improving and gaining confidence.

9) What is the most underrated part of the Bengals roster and why do you think it doesn't get the credit it deserves?

The thought that Palmer would be just another top ten quarterback after his injury. People are starting to realize the Bengals and their quarterback are healthy and for real. Carson's strength was clearly indicated in his ability to spread the ball around against the
Steelers in week 3. See question 8 above...

10) Name the three keys to the game for the Bengals in order for them to beat the Patriots

Being able to adjust the offensive game plan to Coach Belichick's defensive scheme.

Prediction: For the game, and For the Year.
Bengals should win this game at home. I'll predict a 31-20 finish.

The Bengals are a young quality football team that is gaining confidence and experience. I'll predict a loss to the Colts in the playoffs (likely AFC championship loser).

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