Entering the 1999 season, fans of the Bengals were likely uttering the popular line from one of that year’s most popular movie, The Blair Witch Project: “I am so scared right now.” The team was not only in something of a rebuild, they weren’t exactly nailing it – Jeff Blake was once again the starter for the majority of the season, despite his mediocrity largely outweighing his flashes of brilliance throughout his tenure in Cincinnati.
I found that 1999 was a weird year in history. Not only had camping largely ceased thanks to the aforementioned horror film, but people were also freaking out about Y2K. I dare say that had the technology been around in 1999, #LOLY2K would’ve been trending quite often. I also recall this being the year when Pokemon was ridiculously popular, sweeping American kids after its debut in Japan. Personally, I was always a Charmander guy at the beginning of the game. On a more adult note, Jeff Bezos was the Time Magazine Person of the Year.
While I try to change up my fun facts (poorly) week to week, I feel like this paragraph always sounds very much the same. It was another garbage year in Cincinnati, as the Bengals finished 4-12, which locked them in as the worst team of the decade – I mean this literally. The collective records of the Bengals in the 1990’s come out to a dismal 52-108. Considering you have seasons of nine, eight, seven, and seven sprinkled in there, that is even more proof of how bad some of the teams were.
This team started the season 1-10 under third-year coach (or, three and a half year coach since he coached nine games in 1996) Bruce Coslet, who was forced to start quarterback Jeff Blake 12 times in 1999, due in part to the lengthy hold out of rookie Akili Smith (more on him shortly). Everyone knew the project had been a failure, and that Blake was really just riding out the contract at this point. He threw for 2,670 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions – not great, but they’re spectacular based on the guy who started the other four games.
Smith, the Bengals first-round pick in 1999 – third overall out of Oregon, took over for Blake. It became clear quickly that he was a miss, as he started four games, completed 52.3% of his passes for 805 yards, two scores and six interceptions. Queue the head in the hands of everyone having to watch.
Corey Dillon put together another stellar season, accumulating 1,200 yards and five scores on 4.6 yards per carry. He was the sole Pro-Bowler for the team in 1999, and really the only bright spot on a team in disarray. There had been some thought to use Ki-Jana Carter to alleviate some of the reliance on Dillon, but this would prove to be the final straw for the former top overall pick. He’d carry the ball six times in three games, and would be exiled after the season.
Aside from Smith’s holdout, there was another off-the-field issue – star wide receiver Carl Pickens had come out and claimed he would never play for Cincinnati again (per this piece from Sports Illustrated). You can’t blame him – if you go back through our journey, you’ll see Pickens’ career recapped. The guy was a stud, and had been stuck on bad teams for his entire career.
However, he would start 14 games for the team, not having any luck elsewhere since the Bengals had slapped him with the franchise tag. He managed 57 catches for over 700 yards and six touchdowns, not bad at all for a guy who’s unhappy. Darnay Scott fared a bit better, notching his first 1,000 yard receiving season with seven touchdowns of his own.
Offensive struggles aside, the defense was no better, finishing towards the bottom of the league once again. Linebackers Brian Simmons and Takeo Spikes were really the only bright spots, as Simmons tallied 111 tackles (which can happen when you’re constantly on the field) and three sacks, while Spikes had 80 of his own, taking part in nine turnovers.
It’s also worth noting here that 1999 was the final year for kicker Doug Pelfrey, as team would move on to Neil Rackers the following season. It was additionally the last season for the Bengals at Riverfront Stadium.
Keeping in mind that I was born in 1990, this is really the first season in our walk down memory lane that I have some memories from. Even at nine years old, I couldn’t help but laugh at times, because after years upon years of losing that doesn’t appear to be getting better… what else could you do? It was Corey Dillon and everyone else.
Don’t worry folks – 2005 will be here soon enough.
Not Another Bengals, Chiefs Preview
Week seven of the NFL regular season is upon us and the Cincinnati Bengals have a golden opportunity this Sunday on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. Guessing that’s not where your mind went when you thought of this game?
The Bengals and Chiefs have squared off 28 times, over the years, with the Bengals holding a slight 15-13 advantage. Cincinnati holds a four-game winning streak over Kansas City with the last loss coming at Arrowhead in 2007. Marvin Lewis is 6-2 against the Chiefs and 2-2 at Arrowhead. The Lewis-led Bengals have outscored the Chiefs 167 to 136, in their eight meetings.
The last game between these two teams was in week four of the 2015 season. The Bengals won in Paul Brown Stadium 36-21 with four of the touchdowns coming from running plays. Three TDs were scored by Jeremy Hill and the other came from Giovanni Bernard. The lone TD pass was a 55-yarder to Brandon Tate from Andy Dalton.
This is a marvelous chance for Andy and the offense to get back on track. They managed just nine total yards in the third quarter against the Steelers, but will be facing a very pedestrian defensive squad, this coming Sunday night. In two games career games against the Chiefs, Dalton has completed 66% of his passes for 551 yards and three scores. He will face a Chiefs defense that ranks stone cold last in pass defense, allowing 340 yards per game, through the air.
Joe Mixon will be happy, though, as the Chiefs also allow an average of 127 rushing yards, per game. In fact, the Bengals offense, as a whole, should feast on Sunday. They’re averaging 29 points per game and the Chiefs allow 28.7 per game.
They’re banged up, and they’re outgunned in this matchup. Statistically, Cincinnati’s defense has fared only slightly better than Kansas City’s. The Bengals are allowing just over 400 total yards, a game, and 26 points per game. Couple that with the high-flying offense of Patrick Mahomes, who averages 418 total yards and 35 points per game, and I’d say you should bet the over, whatever Vegas has it set as.
Nick Vigil and Darqueze Dennard have been ruled out and Shawn Williams is listed as questionable. Given that eight different defensive starters came off the field last Sunday, at different points in the game, and this coming game may be crazy, simply from a health standpoint.
This matchup has a real chance at being a playoff preview as well as a carbon copy of the Falcons game, a few weeks back. The Chiefs will be in a battle with the Chargers, all season, for the AFC West and the Bengals, though on top for the moment, have no room for comfort with the Ravens and Steelers knocking on the door. Whoever has the ball last in this pivotal game could very well end up the winner.
I’d expect to see a lot of William Jackson and Tyreek Hill matchups. Some have said Hill is the best receiver, in the game, this year so Jackson will need to be on his toes for all 60 minutes. Meanwhile, Kansas City receiving threat 1-B, Travis Kelce, will probably be Teryl Austin’s biggest headache. The Bengals, no matter the personnel or the coaching staff, have always struggled to cover the opposing tight end. Enter, arguably, the best tight end in the NFL with his 468 receiving yards and three TDs. I’m no expert fantasy football predictor, but I’d bet he is a top scorer, this week. And I haven’t even mentioned the Chiefs’ stud running back, Kareem Hunt. Dude is a threat to run all over the place (456 yds, 4th in NFL) and be a pain to the Bengals pass defense (17 yards per catch). Pray for Austin and the Bengals defense.
Bringing it Home
That being said, this is a winnable game for the Bengals. They have the firepower to hang with Kansas City. If you jumped off the wagon after the loss to the Steelers and think the Bengals are going to get absolutely crushed by the Chiefs, you won’t agree with me, so whatevs, but this game isn’t that big of a mismatch. John Ross will be on the field for Cincinnati, giving them their bonafide deep threat to contend with the Chiefs’ big play abilities. AJ Green has nobody to worry about on the Chiefs defense, and will be able to roam free, looking for holes in the coverage. Which just means Tyler Boyd will be able to give as much of his safety blanket-ness to Andy as he can. Should the line have a rough day protecting the pocket, Dalton will have plenty of chances to scramble and make something happen while extending the play. One of these two teams will begin the game hot only to try to slow it down with the rushing game, but I believe both defenses will be porous enough to allow some highlight reel plays deep. This is going to be an entertaining game to watch, if your pacemaker doesn’t give out in the first half. Call me crazy, call me a homer (whatevs, I’m no professional), but I say the Bengals win.
Prediction: Bengals 42, Chiefs 38
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WATCH: Houshmandzadeh says the Bengals are going to beat the Chiefs
Former Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh says the Bengals are going to beat the Chiefs on Sunday night football. He also thinks Andy Dalton’s struggles in primetime games are just a ‘coincidence.’ He was a guest on ‘The Herd’ on Fox Sports One. Watch the video below.
‘Vontaze can be as great as he wants to be’
Vontaze Burfict has been talked about a lot this week. Not for his dominant play, but for a questionable hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 14, 2018
This isn’t new for Burfict. His play has been discussed for years. He’s been fined or suspended 11 times in his career, which has cost him over $1 million in salary.
Some people believe Burfict should be suspended for the rest of the season. Others think he should be out of the NFL forever. There’s no denying that he’s earned his reputation.
Burfict doesn’t like how he’s viewed in the media. If he wants to change it, he can start by playing like an elite linebacker against Kansas City. He doesn’t look like the player he once was. It’s probably because he’s missed so much time over the past few years. Burfict has appeared in 11 games or fewer in his last four seasons due to suspensions and injuries. He hasn’t forced a turnover since 2016, which is the last time he was playing at an elite level.
That leads me to a question that has been asked a lot this week: Is Burfict worth the headache? His teammates certainly think so.
“Vontaze can be as great as he wants to be,” Carlos Dunlap said earlier this week. “And as you’ve seen up to this level he’s played as one of the best linebackers in the league. And I feel like he has the potential to be even better.”
Sunday is an opportunity for Burfict to put on a show. It’s a chance for him to remind people that he is one of the best linebackers in the league. If he goes out there, dominates and does it without any questionable hits, then the entire country will see why the Bengals signed him to two contract extensions. Leading a struggling defense into Kansas City and getting a win would be huge for how people view him. Fans and media could discuss his stellar play, instead of a late-hit or a PED suspension.
He needs to remind people, including fans, that he can be a great player. Burfict just turned 28-years-old. He signed a contract extension with the Bengals last season. There has been plenty of chatter about Burfict this week, but that isn’t bothering rookie safety Jessie Bates.
“He’s so smart and he makes things easier for me communication wise,” Bates said on Wednesday. “Obviously he’s been doing this for a long time. He plays very violent and some people don’t like that. I’m glad that he’s on our team.”
It’s hard to envision Burfict changing at this point, but he can use Sunday to his advantage. He can show a national television audience that he’s able to play the game at a high level and do so without getting fined, flagged or suspended for questionable play.
Once upon a time Burfict was an undrafted free agent who impressed coaches with his knowledge of the game. Fast forward to present day and he’s a ‘dirty player’ who should be suspended or worse. Burfict has a chance to remind everyone of how good he can be. Whether or not he takes advantage of it is up to him.
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