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BENGALS CAPSULE: Is hope on the horizon?

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foxsports admin

 
   
 
CAN THE BENGALS BE CONTENDERS?: For those who haven't closely followed the fortunes of the Cincinnati , here's a brief refresher ...
  • The were once a good football team.
  • The played in two Super Bowls, and very nearly won one of them (Joe BengalFan, "Blasted Lewis Billups!").
  • The , with their origin led by legendary Paul Brown, were one of the AFC's premier franchises ... ... that is, until the 1990s, when the gridiron dark times in the Queen City began. Since then, the have gone 11 consecutive seasons without a playoff berth, which is the longest streak of any team in the NFL. Is there any hope on the horizon? Sorry to break the news to you Joe BengalFan, but it appears that hope may be a bit further away than the horizon. But there are signs that this team is finally moving in the right direction. The are a good defensive back away from fielding a very solid defense. A competent quarterback would do wonders for the offense. Unfortunately at this moment, the don't possess either. is the incumbent at quarterback, which is downright scary. was brought in to compete for a starting job, and that's scary too (he was third string in Denver last season). has spent too much time behind the clipboard to be a factor. is nowhere to be found (actually, he's still on the roster, but his career has been a major disappointment). On defense, the feature one of the NFL's premier linebacking units. is one of the top two to three linebackers in football. and round out a group that has played together for the past four seasons. The big, big question mark on this team rests in the secondary, where the signed free agent and drafted Lamont Thompson in the second round to help bolster what is a very bad unit. HELLO, MY NAME IS ... : It only seems like was with the since the team's inception way back in 1968 (actual first year with : 1993). The finally dumped McGee and drafted their future at the tight end position, Matt Schobel, a real ball-hog from Texas Christian University. Schobel will slide in real nicely right away as the starting tight end. ONE FOOT OUT THE DOOR: The failed to pick up (he went to Buffalo instead, in case you forgot), but the have to be looking elsewhere for their quarterback of the future, if not a current backup somewhere in the NFL, then perhaps some poor, unsuspecting college senior or junior to grab in the 2003 draft. After becoming the No. 3 overall pick in 1999, Smith has been a complete disaster. In addition to nursing his bruised ego, Smith is also nursing a torn left hamstring. Smith doesn't really figure into the ' plans this season, and it's hard to believe that he figures in the team's plans for the future. "SORRY HONEY, I'M WATCHING THE GAME": NFL realignment didn't put an end to the intra-Ohio battles between the and Cleveland . Unfortunately for the , their in-state rivals' prospects are much better for 2002, but the rivalry ought to heat up as the continue to improve. The first -Browns game is slated for Sept. 15 at Cleveland Stadium. The two teams will meet again at Paul Brown Stadium on Nov. 17. Just who the heck is ? Can't name more than five can you? Well, this team finally gets some national TV exposure for a Sept. 22 Sunday nighter against the Atlanta so that football fans can familiarize themselves with this team. A team many are picking to go to the Super Bowl, and possibly win it, the Pittsburgh come to the Queen City on Oct. 13. CRYSTAL FOOTBALL SAYS: This team may not be half bad, but the playoffs are still an extremely lofty goal. But who knows? Strange things happen these days in the NFL. Nonetheless, this is a team that is improving. On offense, is one of the most feared running backs in the NFL. Defensively, Spikes crushes ballcarriers at will. A foundation for the future has finally been set.
  • Tagged: Falcons, Bills, Bengals, Browns, Cowboys, Colts, Steelers, Steve Foley, Takeo Spikes, Corey Dillon, Akili Smith, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Gus Frerotte, Drew Bledsoe

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