By Rams Nation's Don Ackerman
Yes, the Bengals are currently tied for the divisional lead and are fighting for a playoff spot. Marvin Lewis has turned around the franchise (at least for the year). The Bengals are a surprise in the league this year and are not desperate in their playoff hunt. They control their destiny. They own the tiebreaker for the division crown versus the Baltimore Ravens. Both teams are at 8-6 and a wild card for either won't be good enough. In the AFC, the wild cards are currently owned by Tennessee at 10-4 and Denver at 9-5. For the Bengals, it's simple - you win, you get in.
The Rams are also tied in their playoff hunt: home field advantage. In this case, the Rams lose the tiebreaker. The Rams want to play at home where they have dominated in recent years. Currently at 7-0, the Rams are looking to win at home to stay at home in January. It's that simple for Saint Louis.
Watch the Ball Sunday
Watch Chad Johnson, the often-fined wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals. This Pro Bowl receiver has vowed to "do something" Sunday when he will want to celebrate scoring a touchdown. It should be interesting. Last week, Johnson brought out a sign that asked the NFL not to fine him. Well, it didn't work to the tune of $10,000. Ouch! Despite that, he jokingly vowed to be fined two more weeks then retire from giving away his money (he has reportedly been fined $70,000 through the year so what's another 10?). He might have said he was joking but I suspect he will celebrate and you'll see something different Sunday. The Bengals will be one playmaker light as Peter Warrick, wide receiver, will miss the game after arthroscopic knee surgery.
On the Rams side of the ball, watch the wide receivers. Torry Holt is leading the league and is the most focused Mike Martz has seen him. He's playing great football and his Pro Bowl selection and statistics show it. Running with Holt, Dane Looker and Mike Furrey have been making a difference and filling the 3rd wide receiver role that was vacated by Ricky Proehl. With Isaac Bruce dealing with a high ankle sprain, Bruce will likely not see action. Despite that, the wide receivers will be fun to watch in this game.
Running the ball will be Marshall Faulk for the Rams and Rudi Johnson and Corey Dillon for the Bengals. Though Corey Dillon is more of a household name, Rudi Johnson is a threat running the ball as well. Last Sunday, he rushed for an amazing 174 yards against San Francisco in Cincinnati. No matter who runs, the Rams will be facing a good back. Faulk on the other hand is looking to recapture his 100-yard game form after gaining only 85 yards against Seattle last week.
Like I said, this will be a fun game to watch. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Don, the Rams Nation columnist can be contacted at Don@RamsNation.org.