After knocking off the defending Super Bowl champions, the optimism for a developing Bengals team is riding high. In fact, they face winnable games in the next five weeks against the Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers, Cowboys and Eagles. Mohamed Sanu is beginning to show why many of us would not have minded if he were a first round selection, and when Marvin Jones returns from injury he will likely be given every chance to prove that he can play over Armon Binns and Brandon Tate. In fact, Tate should just not be on the field, period.
It was exciting to see Dre Kirkpatrick on the field against the Giants until he took a terrible angle of pursuit against the run and helped spring a big Giants running play. But Adam Jones and Leon Hall have been exceptional lately in coverage. Hopefully Jones’ injury is not too serious. It would not be too surprising to see another four or five wins to end the season with an 8-8 or 9-7 record, and if the young receivers continue to play well and tight end Jermaine Gresham can show the same concentration that he displayed on Sunday, Andy Dalton could become dramatically more efficient and have a few more of those statement games. Their offensive line had an astounding game, shutting down the Giants’ pass rush, andDaltonlooked much more comfortable with multiple viable receiving options.
This does not change the fact that this is a team playing for 2013, but if they can ride the hot hand and knock of one or both of the Steelers or the up and down Ravens in the last couple weeks, Cincinnati could widely be considered a contender for the AFC North crown. When the Bengals are on their game, they are hard to be stopped, especially if they continue to dominate the trenches.