With the new NFL season quickly approaching there is little time left for preseason speculation and predictions. The first preseason game is in the books and the Bengals are looking to move up the ranks of their division and secure yet another playoff spot. This may be a daunting task in the AFC North that put three teams in the postseason a little over a year ago.
Here are three things that need to happen this season for the Cincinnati Bengals to taste the success of playing past the regular season.
1. Pass the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North: Although the Baltimore Ravens have yet to win a Super Bowl with this team, the Pittsburgh Steelers look like the team on the decline. Their core players Big Ben, James Harrison, Casey Hampton and Troy Polamalu are getting older and the window looks like it is closing for the Steelers. Both teams are well coached, but Pittsburgh is facing injury concerns with Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall, Max Starks and Casey Hampton are questionable for Week 1. Baltimore is dealing with a slew of injuries but the only serious injury is Terrell Suggs. This could be a detrimental blow to the defense but that has yet to be seen. Most of the Ravens main contributors are young and healthy, such as Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Haloti Ngata and Jimmy Smith. It would appear that the Baltimore Ravens are the team to beat in the AFC North.
Alas, this could be the perfect opportunity for the Cincinnati Bengals to pass the #2 team in the AFC North last year the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a must for the Bengals who have one of the toughest schedules in the league. It is unlikely that the AFC North produces 3 playoff teams again so the Bengals have to take aim at the weakest opponent who finished ahead of them last season.