Stillers-Bungals Preview(Game #6)
The Stillers return to the Blast Furnace, fresh off 2 fairly surprising wins over the Jags and the Jets. They return home, bringing a renewed enthusiasm, both within themselves as well as within their fan base. Adding to this enthusiasm is the prospect of facing the Cinci Bungals, who have done their best to achieve new lows that were previously thought to be unattainable. This is a matchup in which the Stillers should dominate from the opening kickoff to the final gun. However, we've been down this ugly road before�.for 2 years in a row. Who can forget the home loss to Cinci in October '98, when O'Donnell threw a hail mary pass up an elevator shaft on 4th and 11, only to have Perry and DeWayne stand around while Carl Dickens hauled it in. And then Neil faked the spike and completed the winning TD to Dickens. The biggest fear entering this week is certainly not the Bungals, but the Stillers themselves, who could be overly complacent and cocky.
* When the Bungals have the ball, they bring as woeful an offense as one can find in the NFL. Akili Smith has struggled at QB, and his young weapons of Warrick and Dugans have failed to reach their projected potential. Corey Dillon is a quality back who has often given the Stillers fits, but between his weak O-line, and the fact that Cinci is often playing catch-up ball, he's been bottled up pretty regularly thus far this year. The Bungals do have 2 solid TEs in McGee and Battaglia, but Smith has not yet developed a consistent rapport with either of these TEs. An interesting matchup will be between RT Anderson and OLB Gildon, as Anderson has pretty much used Gildon like a punching bag the past few seasons. The key matchup will be Dugans & Warrick vs. Scott & DeWayne. Our front 7 should dominate Cinci, and therefore Cinci's only chance of moving the ball will be by getting the pill to these 2 dangerous but unproductive receivers.
* When the Stillers have the ball, they ought to be able to do anything they want, whenever they want. Cinci's rushing defense has been soft and porous, and with the way the Stiller O-line has been blocking, we should be able to jam the ball down Cinci's throat. The only concern is if ex-Stiller defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau decides to sell out to stop the run, using a mix of run blitzing and disguised fronts. If I were LeBeau, I'd do just that, because his basic 3-4 front 7 does not have the horsepower to stop Bus and Fu with mano-o-mano schemes. With Graham starting, it will be interesting if Gilbride tries to get the ball downfield, both early on and throughout the game, to exploit Plex and Troy against a mediocre Bungal secondary. Or, will Gaypride simply roll out the Dink & Dump that he used the past two weeks?? The key matchup is Gilbride versus LeBeau. There's no player-on-player matchup worth mentioning, as the Stillers should be able to exploit the Bungals. But LeBeau can be crafty, and it's safe to believe that LeBeau would love nothing more than to beat his old boss, Cowher.
* The biggest fear is this team being too lax and complacent. Playing at home, in front of what should be an energetic, rabid, and rejuvenated crowd, the Stillers should come out smokin' and put the wood to Cinci early and often. After suffering thru what seems like at least 8 previous poor home efforts, the loyal Stiller fans deserve nothing but watching the Stillers deliver a can o' whip ass to the Bungals. However, some brief slop and lethargy will make the score at least a lil' bit close -- final score, Stillers 26, Bungals 15.
The Still Mill