The Bengals defense has been the biggest benefactor of Cincinnati’s improved scouting department and subsequently better drafting of players over the past five years. No more high-risk, high-reward players like Odell Thurman, Ahmad Brooks and Keith Rivers (he was more of a flat-out bust), and now we’re seeing the likes of Geno Atkins, Domata Peko, George Iloka, Vontaze Burfict(undrafted, so essentially no risk with him), and Michael Johnson, all of whom who selected in the third-round or later of their respective drafts.
When you’re able to assemble starting unit of 11 players compromised of players who weren’t as highly thought of entering the NFL, you’ve got a unit of players who are hungry, always playing with a chip on their shoulder, and playing with the kind of comradery seen only in championship-caliber teams.
Just think, the Bengals second-team defense as of now would consist of Carlos Dunlap, Devon Still, Wallace Gilberry, Emanuel Lamur, Dre Kirkpatrick, Brandon Ghee and Shawn Williams. That’s about the same level of talent that the Chuck Bresnahan’s defenses had at any given time.
Can the Bengals win a championship this year? Maybe. Maybe not. But for the first time in a long while, they’ve got the horses to make a run deep into the playoffs, and they’ve got enough talent that they’re capable of beating any team in the NFL in a one-game scenario.
At the end of the day, the Bengals have a chance to win a Super Bowl because of the strength and depth of their defense. At the end of the day in the NFL, a chance is all you can really ask for.