Madden Chronicles: Weeks 11-13

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WEEK 11:

 

Now it just feels like the game is trolling me, and Teddy Bridgewater probably feels I’m trolling him, too.

 

The former Minnesota passer tossed two picks and seeing as Joe Mixon is providing Green Bay Packer levels of stability in the running game Bridgewater decided to take up the mantle of lead running back, too. Bridgewater rushed for 47 yards in addition to his 202 passing yards, 112 of those to A.J. Green – so yay for Green fantasy owners I guess.

 

DeShone Kizer by contrast was efficient the ball throwing for 147 yards and a pair of scores.

 

Oh, and Myles Garrett destroyed the Bengals’ offensive line. It was men against boys out there and the Bengals retreated with their tails between their legs and Garrett in their backfield. The former number one overall pick ended the game with two sacks and two TFLs. Try playing against that on All-Madden difficulty. Ouch.

 

So after opening the season 5-0, Cincinnati now sit at 5-6 and have allowed the rest of the AFC North back into the division.

 

Next up? Just the small matter of the Pittsburgh Steelers at home.

 

WEEK 12:

 

YES!!!!!!!!! A WIN AT LAST!!!!! The Bengals managed just 149 yards of total offense and just a solitary score – Teddy Bridgewater tossing an eight-yard touchdown pass to Gio Bernard in the first quarter as Cincinnati snapped their six game slide to beat their division rival Steelers 7-6.

 

However, with the good must come the bad, Ying and Yang and all that. Soon enough Bridgewater was taken out of the game, as were running back duo of Bernard and Joe Mixon leaving the QB-RB backfield of A.J. McCarron and full-back Ryan Hewitt – no I have no idea how I held on for the win either.

 

It is good to get help though and rookie runner James Conner was only to happy to provide some with a pair of fumbles in Bengals territory.

 

The injuries to Bernard and Bridgewater proved damaging as Bernard is out for the rest of the season with a broken collarbone while Bridgewater is set to miss a month of action with a shoulder tear. Who’s up for an A.J. McCarron led offense? Nobody? Well the 2-10 Bears are up next so there’s hope.

 

WEEK 13:

 

Good karma has come my way in some form. After losing some close contests in the middle of the season I finally did enough charitable deeds to get some loyalty points on my good karma reward card and now we’ve won back to back close games.

 

Joe Mixon finally got rid of the concrete in his cleats as he ran over the Bears for 119 yards as the Bengals scrapped a 10-9 win in Chicago.

 

Meanwhile the Cincinnati offense continues to throw more picks than Jimmy Hendrix and a particularly stressful recording session – so that will be a concern for Kyle Shanahan as he continues to try and cover up the quarterback’s shortcomings in the same way Teresa May is trying desperately to cover up the fact she has no plans for Brexit.

 

Next a date with the Bears’ division rivals the Minnesota Vikings. Cue the Andy Dalton revenge game narrative and Teddy Bridgewater having a joke with old teammates before looking sombre on the side lines like a dog who has just watched their owner back up out of the driveway.

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Madden Chronicles: Weeks 8-10

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HUGE TRADE NEWS TO KICK US OFF!!

 

The Cincinnati Bengals sent quarterback Andy Dalton to the Minnesota Vikings along with a fourth-round pick for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and cornerback Trae Waynes.

 

Rumours were rife that Conway and Dalton’s relationship had begun to deteriorate after a string of underwhelming performances from the man out of TCU.

 

Bridgewater is in a contract year so now the Bengals will begin the process of tying down the former first-round pick. As for Waynes he gives the Bengals much needed depth at corner.

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WEEK 8:

A crushing Joe Mixon fumble, recovered by the Colts, saw the Bengals shut out in the second half of Teddy Bridgewater’s debut in a painful 14-13 loss.

 

Cincinnati’s new signal caller, Teddy Bridgewater, would like to know where the team’s advertised running game had disappeared to as Joe Mixon found about as much wiggle room as a Chinese finger trap.

 

Mixon’s nine carries for 20 yards was brutal for the Bengals and left Bridgewater in the firing line as the Colts’ pass rush teed off on him – you know things are bad when a Colts pass rush gets to you.

 

New cornerback Waynes had an outstanding showing, however. With one defended pass and three tackles. His sticky coverage on Kamar Aiken saw the former Baltimore Raven catch just one pass for 11 yards.

 

Cincinnati now fall to 5-2 and will look to snap their losing streak against a lowly Jaguars squad next week in Jacksonville.

 

WEEK 9:

 

Blake Bortles was carted off with an apparent knee injury midway through the first quarter and Leonard Fournette did not return after being lit up by Vontaze Burfict, but that did not stop the Jaguars as Chad Henne guided the Jaguars to a 17-14 victory and condemned the Bengals to their third straight loss since coming off their week six bye. It’s back to back devastating losses for Cincinnati with Jacksonville besting them in overtime.

 

Teddy Bridgewater did his best Aaron Rodgers impression when he fled the pocket and threw a 90-yard bomb to A.J. Green with just 13 seconds in the game to breathe new life into the Bengals’ charge.

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However, it was not to be as the Jags kicked a game winning field goal in overtime after the Bengals failed to get a score. It’s another crushing loss which reigns the Bengals back to 5-3. Anymore losses and the team’s decision to flip Dalton will start to look less shrewd.

 

WEEK 10:

 

I feel like each week now we wright about a close loss for the Bengals. And for now, those times aren’t changing as defense ruled the day with Tennessee beating the Bengals 14-7 in Nashville.

 

New quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is still finding his feet, ending the game with an unimpressive stat line of 11/24, 106 yards and a pick. At the moment, the Cincinnati offense resembles your dad’s first car: it’s slow, ugly and not the least bit effective. The Cincinnati offense ranks dead last, Kyle Shanahan will feel his seat becoming warmer, as will Conway.

 

Pete Carroll by contrast is making a case for another head coaching job. While the Bengals are on a four game skid his defense as only given up 20 points once during that time.

 

Now at 5-4 Conway’s coaching and man management will be tested to see if he can rescue a capsizing ship, and with Teddy Bridgewater yet to sign a deal the ship is even more unstable.

Madden Chronicles: Weeks 4-6

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WEEK 4:

Cincinnati’s week went from good to great after shutting out the winless Cleveland Browns 21-0 to move to 4-0. On Tuesday linebacker Vontaze Burfict signed a six-year extension worth $49m. Burfict turned down the Bengals’ first offer of $46m before accepting an $8.1m average salary through 2023.

 

Burfict showed why he was worth all that cash by intercepting Cody Kessler twice as the Browns were held to a feeble 121 yards of total offense. Andy Dalton did not exactly light things up with a promising drive in the redzone killed with his third pick of the season. The Cincinnati faithful have their quarterback on a short leash and greeted his pick with boos. A.J. McCarron throwing passes on the side line will not have helped matters.

 

Rookie runner Joe Mixon continues to be a fantasy football darling. The rookie runner racked up 95 yards and two scores on 12 carries. The Browns by contrast lost their workhorse back Isaiah Crowell just three plays into the game with a reported bruised sternum. The third year back was blown up in pass protection by defensive menace Geno Atkins and did not return to the field.

 

A fade to A.J. Green inside the five remains the deadliest weapon in football. Green clocked his fourth touchdown of the season with three of those scores coming through the in-vogue fade route. Meanwhile first-year speedster John Ross continues to make plays. His 41-yard catch was in vain, though with the first quarter Dalton pick.

 

Finally, the Bengals managed to find a partner for a trade with Jeremy Hill after failing to sell him to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for Tyron Smith. The team? None other than the New England Patriots who now have 37 running backs on their roster. Packaged with a 2019 4th rounder the Bengals acquired outsider linebacker Elandon Roberts and a 2019 5th rounder. The move addressed Conway’s desperate linebacking corps outside of Burfict. The only thing they need to worry about now is Jeremy Hill going off for 125 rushing yards and two scores on his way to Super Bowl MVP honours.

Mixon TD

WEEK 5:

If you can’t get Andy Dalton get you passing touchdowns just run bootlegs and have him run the ball in – just as effective.

 

Tyrod Taylor consistently broke the pocket, true to form, and threw a bunch of passes across his body which is about as well advised as accepting a job role at the White House. Inexplicably he went four for four on those passes – not sure if that is a bug Madden will need to work out. He did pay the price for his boldness when Dre Kirkpatrick stepped in front of Andre Holmes for an interception. 

 

Andy Dalton threw for 99 yards, those are numbers that would make Brock Osweiler smirk. Meanwhile Joe Mixon continued to show why I was right to trade Jeremy Hill rushing for 136 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown scamper.

 

The Bengals passing attack was so bad it prompted Madden Heath Evans to tweet: “The Bengals are just a bad offensive unit, and that’s not going to change this year.”

 

Proposing a counterargument to that with 99 yards passing as evidence would be akin to arguing you are on a diet while working your way through the selection boxes you accumulated at Christmas.

big ben

WEEK 7:

Coming off the bye week Conway has reason to smile as veteran defensive lineman Pat Sims signed a one-year $4.51m extension and backup signal caller A.J. McCarron signed a three-year $20.1m extension – that seems hefty for a backup and Conway agreed with that when he realised what he’d done. Maybe hope for a trade.

 

On the field, an AFC North matchup with the Steelers beckoned. Then, once it lured us in, it set about giving us a sound beating like Joe Pesci’s characters in Martin Scorsese movies. Martavis Bryant grabbed a pair of long touchdowns as the Steelers humbled their divisional rivals 24-10.

 

Andy Dalton’s performances raised more eyebrows than The Rock with his inept first half showing where he completed two of four passes for 36 yards, this did little to ease trade talk following an uneasy first half of the season which saw Joe Mixon become the Bengals’ offense. However, the rookie runner finished with negative yardage from scrimmage today as the Steelers defense, led by linebacker Ryan Shazier.

 

There are rumours that the Bengals are willing to listen to trade talks for their QB1 with Conway looking to build an offense around ‘his guy’. But in a boom-or-bust move is it worth trading a solid quarterback and rolling the dice?

 

Side note: Having gone 5-0 I bumped the difficulty up from All-Pro to All-Madden because who wants to finish 12-4? That’s boring – I bet the Patriots hate it every year.