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Thursday, October 6

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Bears Thu Oct 22 2009

Footballic Ramblings: The Benson Bowl Edition

Cedric Benson, the justifiably maligned former Bears running back, is back in a big way this season. Currently the heretofore crap-tacular Bears bust is second in the AFC and third in all of the NFL in rushing behind only Chris Johnson of Tennessee --quite literally the only bright spot for the Titans following the 59-0 bloodening they suffered at the hands of a now functioning and operational New England offense-- and the indomitable Adrian Peterson of Minnesota --heads up, Mr All Day has a dinged up ankle, just sayin' fantasy owners. But we digress. Benson is third in the NFL in rushing, I'm sorry, but does Hell have icicles now, too? Have pigs sprouted wings and now passenger jets need to worry about swines in the jet turbines? [Hamburgers are now eating people? -Ed.] Benson being good at professional football, the mind, it boggles and folds under the own pressures and illogical forces it's struggling to comprehend.

To put it another way, Benson with 531 rushing yards to his name, is a scant 216 yards away from his career high in rushing yards and only six games in and is averaging more than 30 yards per game than his career per game average. Dude is having one hell of a comeback that nobody thought he was capable of. Benson was a bust, a bum, an afterthought that was prone to injury and getting his drank on during the offseason.

The Bears dismissed him and now Benson is striking out, via the press (that lambasted him to begin with, O, irony!) at the Bears. Ridiculous accusations of "blackballing" aside, [C'mon, blackballing in the NFL? Look at your numbers with Chicago, Cedric, and tell me the Bears made a mistake.-Ed.] With the mouth running, Benson better show up with his legs running against the Bears on Sunday in the Queen City. The Bears run defense has been surprisingly stingy this season ranking sixth in NFL against the run. Those numbers have been bolstered by the steady performance of the offense (see wins against Pittsburgh, Seattle, Detroit) where the long-sustained scoring drives by Cutler and Co. have kept the other offenses off the field. When the Bears defense has been forced to stay on the field for too long (see losses against Atlanta and Green Bay) in both those games the rush defense performed admirably, however, the long-in-the-tooth defense has staggered in the final quarter of both games and the "could burn to the ground" secondary has taken over from there.

The Bengals present a plethora of opportunities for the Bears secondary to be exploited. With the front seven concerning themselves with Benson's presence at all times the safeties and cornerbacks for the Bears are very at risk of being toasted by Chad Ocho Cinco, Chris Henry, Laveranues Coles and Andre Caldwell all game long. If the Bears secondary was America's Gulf Coast than the Bengals receiver corp and qb Carson Palmer are the Category Five Hurricane "time to crap our pants" storm of the century. Yes, it could be that bad, Bears fans.

The good news? The missile silo-armed Carson Palmer happens to also be as mobile as a missile silo. If the Bears defensive line can crack the backfield and put Palmer on his back, well, "Bully for you, Bears!" Offensively, new and improved, "Smellin' Like the Vault, Cuz I Just GOT PAID" Cutler-Bot 5000 should find the Bengals secondary very accommodating. Additionally Cincinnati's ground-trembling god of sacks, Antwan Odom is out for the season after tearing his Achilles tendon on Sunday against Houston. Odom was the NFL's leader in sacks and also the leading cause for quarterbacks to wet themselves, to have the wearying and slow-footed Orlando Pace NOT have to contend with Odom is a god-send.

For the Bengals and Bears alike, the storylines in this game should have so much less to do with Cedric Benson and much more to do with the fact that they are both very much alive in their respective conference playoff hunts. The Bengals are sitting atop the AFC North Division while the Bears are tied with Green Bay for second place in the NFC North. For Chicago with a very winnable stretch of their schedule coming up (Cincy, Cleveland, Arizona and San Francisco) winning on Sunday will be the perfect remedy for chasing away the "We Let Atlanta Off the Hook" pains.

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