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November 18, 2009 6:14 AM

No. 4 Bengals finally sipping success

Yep, that's Marvin Lewis' Cincinnati gang you see sitting at the Stammtisch knocking back the strong stuff with the other big boys.
We've told our bouncers there's no need to card this team anymore after that old-time-y slugfest in Pittsburgh last Sunday. These dudes can handle themselves, and belong at our best table.

Now, see those drunkards way in the back? No, no, waaaaaaay in the back, pal.
That's right, Cleveland and Detroit. Well, they square off Sunday. Our bouncers have been instructed that if either one somehow connects with a punch to let Dick Jauron break it up. Poor guy needs something to do.
I mean, can you think of anybody more comfortable than Jauron getting in the middle of a mess like that?

Prost!    

THE STRONG STUFF

  • 1 (2) Indianapolis (98 proof, 9-0) Behind every great team stands a great coach, even if nobody knows his name.
  • 2 (1) New Orleans (97 proof, 9-0) Maybe rearranging them in the batting order will help shake their mini-slump. Or maybe just going down to Tampa Bay this weekend will take care of everything.
  • 3 (3) Minnesota (93 proof, 8-1) When you grumble about being sloppy after winning by 17, you've turned some sort of serious corner as an organization.
  • 4 (6) Cincinnati (91 proof, 7-2) Let an outsider confirm it: This is a very solid NFL team you are rooting for, Bengals fans.

WORTH A SHOT
  • 5 (5) New England (88 proof, 6-3) When you've won three Super Bowls, you can play with fire because you can handle the heat. You don't think Belichick would make that call again in a minute? 
  • 6 (4) Pittsburgh (86 proof, 6-3) Were out-Steelered by the Bengals in their own building. Some messages are louder than others.
  • 7 (12) San Diego (82 proof, 6-3) How did they get here?!
  • 8 (10) Arizona (79 proof, 6-3) The old Cardinals would have folded to the Seahawks Sunday. We're almost buying this new deck of Cards.
  • 9 (9) Houston (78 proof, 5-4) Spent the week off shopping for a new wardrobe. Time to dress for success.
WATERED DOWN
  • 10 (7) Dallas (73 proof, 6-3) Over the course of the average NFL season, the Cowboy Bandwagon loses more wheels, than Jerry Jones' face loses wrinkles.
  • 11 (8) Atlanta (71 proof, 5-4) We warned 'em about Carolina last week. Better be very careful in New Jersey this Sunday, just in case the Giants suddenly remember how to win.
  • 12 (14) Baltimore (68 proof, 5-4) Perfect spot for them this Sunday at home against Indy. Should be a beauty.
  • 13 (11) Philadelphia (64 proof, 5-4) The West Coast offense is now 0-2 on the West Coast this year.
  • 14 (15) N.Y. Giants (62 proof, 5-4) Rolled to within a half game of division lead on their off week. Unfortunately, Sunday they have to play again.
  • 15 (18) Carolina (58 proof, 4-5) Have suddenly become the team nobody wants to play. QB still can't be trusted in meaningful games, though.
  • 16 (16) Miami (55 proof, 4-5) Tomorrow night's game against the team one notch above them is your basic elimination tilt.
  • 17 (19) Green Bay (52 proof, 5-4) Uncorked smoke and mirrors to stifle the Dallas offense Sunday.
  • 18 (13) Denver (50 proof, 6-3) Lose to Chargers at home this Sunday and it will make Chernobyl look like a camp fire.
CHEAP STUFF
  • 19 (21) Jacksonville (46 proof, 5-4) Every game this weird team plays is bizarre. Are capable of losing by 40 at any moment.
  • 20 (24) Tennessee (45 proof, 3-6) The Carolina Panthers of the AFC.
  • 21 (22) San Francisco (43 proof, 4-5) Think Coach Mike's eyes haven't gotten even bigger watching how long Aaron Rodgers holds that ball in the pocket?!
  • 22 (20) Chicago (41 proof, 4-5) The team with the over-hyped past has become the rudderless team of the present with no future.
  • 23 (17) N.Y. Jets (40 proof, 4-5) Buddy boy's barkers stood in awe as their coach picked up the phone and dared Belichick to pull that fourth-down crap with his team Sunday. Didn't know the mute button was on, though.
ROT GUT
  • 24 (23) Seattle (39 proof, 3-6) With nothing to play for, Little Mora called his daddy just for the fun of it, and told him they were talking about the playoffs...
  • 25 (30) Washington (37 proof, 3-6) Too bad we aren't brave enough to throw cash behind these odd hunches we get from time to time (look it up). But who really trusts Washington? 
  • 26 (25) Buffalo (34 proof, 3-6) If Dick Jauron was removed from the sidelines, would anybody even know he was missing? We'll find out Sunday.
  • 27 (26) Tampa Bay (33 proof, 1-8) I might even think about admitting I root for this team if I'm one of the 119 Bucs fans out there.
  • 28 (27) Kansas City (31 proof, 2-7) An angry Pittsburgh team visits Sunday. Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock can barely contain himself as he re-writes Coach Haley's obit.
  • 29 (31) St. Louis (28 proof, 1-8) The best thing you can say about a 1-8 team: They are playing hard.
  • 30 (28) Oakland (22 proof, 2-7) The best thing you can say about a 2-7 club won't be said in this case.
  • 31 (29) Cleveland (19 proof, 1-8) Maybe Cleveland deserves a better team than this. We are talking about Cleveland, though...
  • 32 (32) Detroit (15 proof, 1-8) Wait! There's hope! Cleveland comes to town Sunday! Watching this could make you blind, though.
(*) -- denotes last week's ranking.


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