The 2010 Cincinnati Bengals aren't going anywhere. They've lost five games in a row, and at 2-6 they're one of the few AFC teams that's essentially out of the playoff chase. There's a solid chance NBC will flex out of Cincinnati's Week 16 home game against San Diego. Keep moving, there's nothing to see here, folks.
But let's pause for a moment and celebrate the amazing season Terrell Owens(notes) is posting. TO's brilliance hasn't translated to a lot of Cincinnati wins, but he's doing all he can to push your imaginary team to a championship.
Owens was the best skill player on the field Monday night, rolling up 10 catches for 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Cincinnati's 27-21 defeat to Pittsburgh. Owens has now scored in five straight games (seven TDs in all), and he's all over the wideout leader board through nine weeks. Here's where TO stands at his position:
- Receiving touchdowns, tied for third
- Receptions, third
- Receiving yards, third (he's at 770; that's no joke, Landsberg)
- Targets, first
- Red-zone targets, tied for third
Wideouts on the eve of their 37th birthday aren't supposed to produce like this, but Owens has been the exception to a lot of rules. Meanwhile, Chad Ochocinco's(notes) crummy season has been almost as astounding; Ochocinco is 15 catches, 297 yards and five touchdowns behind Owens for the year. For the most part Ochocinco has handled the silent demotion fairly well, but Mount 85 looked ready to erupt during Monday's second half. Ochocinco had just one catch in the loss, coming in the game's final minute.
• Carson Palmer(notes) is currently the No. 7 quarterback on the scoring leader board, a testament to what can be accomplished in garbage time. Ten of Palmer's 14 touchdown passes this year have come with the Bengals trailing and nine of his scoring tosses have come in the second half. He's got a 54.7 rating when ahead, a 76.6 rating when tied, and a 95.0 rating when behind.
Palmer should have plenty of time to continue this trend over the final eight weeks of the year; the Bengals figure to be clear underdogs in six of their remaining games (@IND, @NYJ, NO, @PIT, SD, @BAL). The two remaining matches don't look too daunting; the Bills have allowed 17 touchdown passes this year (against one interception), and for all the pluckiness of the Browns, you can still throw on their secondary (1,924 yards, 15 TDs).
• Cincinnati's fall from grace hasn't completely ruined Cedric Benson's(notes) fantasy value; the Bengals continue to steer the rock to Benson like a father coaching his son in Pee Wee football. Benson collected 18 carries Monday, along with a short score, and now has 161 totes for the year, eight-best in the league. To put his workload in perspective, consider that Benson has more carries than Arian Foster(notes), Michael Turner(notes), Ray Rice(notes) or Peyton Hillis(notes). Volume is a beautiful thing, gamers.
• There's no need to spend too much time on the Steelers in this space – Pittsburgh is in the middle of a three-game prime-time package (New England comes calling next week). These guys should feel like family members to you by now. Hines Ward(notes) picked up his 15th career touchdown against the Bengals in the Monday victory, while Mike Wallace(notes) went for a season-high five receptions and 110 yards. Wallace's 39-yard score came on a gadget play (a pass from Antwaan Randle El(notes), and a sick adjustment from Wallace), but his recent spike is mostly attributable to the Ben Roethlisberger(notes) effect. Wallace averaged 53 yards per game with Big Ben on the sidelines; he's at 76 yards per game since, with three TDs in four weeks.
• The Lions aren't very media-friendly in the Jim Schwartz era; they're not going to go out of their way to keep us informed of their injuries. But the silent fear around 8 Mile is that Matthew Stafford(notes) (shoulder) could be lost for the season. If Shaun Hill(notes) (forearm) is able to go Sunday at Buffalo, the Detroit passing game might not struggle that much; Hill was surprisingly productive in his stint earlier this year. But if Drew Stanton(notes) is forced to start, it's a major hit for the entire offense.
• This week's Monday Brunch originally had a shiny-happy note about Roscoe Parrish(notes), but you'll only find it in the Director's Cut. Parrish's wrist injury turned out to be a fracture and he's done for the year. C.J. Spiller(notes) will pick up extra return work in Parrish's absence, which at least gets him on the field.
• Eric Mangini has yet to endorse Colt McCoy(notes) as his starter going forward, despite the fact that McCoy has engineered victories over the Patriots and Saints (he wasn't shabby at Pittsburgh, either). Perhaps it's just a head game from Mangini, who has a grudge match coming against the Jets in Week 10.
• Bonus Links: Tom Cable appears to be waffling on his starter at quarterback; Jason Campbell's(notes) three-game winning streak might be enough to keep JC in the big chair. … There's a chance Sidney Rice(notes) could play this week against Chicago. … We're a long way from knowing how the Redskins will approach Monday's game against Philadelphia, but it was encouraging to see Ryan Torain(notes) (hamstring) make it through a full practice Monday.
Image courtesy Associated Press