It is official, the hype surrounding Cincinnati is growing and the Bengals are finally becoming known for their dynamic play on the field, instead of their woes on Sunday.
On Friday night’s episode of NFL Total Access, Willie McGinest made a bold prediction. The three-time Super Bowl Champion said that the Cincinnati Bengals were the Wild Card team most likely to win the Super Bowl in New Orleans this year.
Finally, the Bengals are getting recognition from their tough play and ability to put teams away week after week. The team has been surging all of the way through the second half of the season and hope to keep that going this week against their division foes, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
They have been playing as a complete team. Cincinnati’s defense, that was once the Achilles Heel for the team, has stepped up and kept teams from outscoring the Bengals in five of their last six matchups. They are ranked 12th overall in the NFL against the pass and 9th against the run. Last week they recorded four fumble recoveries and one interception in their win over the Eagles.
The offensive unit for the Bengals has also stepped up their game. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, whom many were jeering in the first half of the season, has gotten a little bounce to his step in the final stretch. The Law Firm has rushed for over 100 yards in four of the Bengals last five games and looks to have finally clicked with the offensive line and his legs.
Not only has the running game excelled recently, but the second year quarterback for the Bengals has many turning their heads toward the Queen City. After having a stellar rookie season, Andy Dalton came back this season ready to fight for his team once again. He has already thrown 26 touchdown passes this season and joined Dan Marino and Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to throw 20+ touchdown passes in their first two seasons in the NFL.
His receivers have also stepped up. The rookies, Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, have been making big plays when they are on the field and Jermaine Gresham has become a looming presence as a receiver to opposing teams. Then, of course, the Bengals and Dalton have a future legend in A.J. Green on the field.
Green makes defenses take notice with his ability to get open and make big plays all over the turf. The season the second year wide receiver has 85 receptions for 1208 yards, averaging 14.2 yards per catch. He has recorded 11 touchdowns and has been handy with the ball, only fumbling one time this season and two times in his career.
Cincinnati is coming together at the right time in the season. The opportunities for this young team are endless as they grow with one another and battle it out week in and week out. There is a lot of upside to this team and that is exactly what Bengals fans are getting now; a winning team, with the right combination of skill and swagger, turning head in the NFL.