5 Bold Predictions for the Bengals in 2014

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And can the Bengals go all the way in 2014? Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals Win The Super Bowl

Call me crazy, but I believe the Bengals have as good a shot as anybody to win the AFC and hence the Super Bowl. With Tom Brady and the Patriots along with Peyton Manning and the Broncos still patrolling the conference, it would take a heroic effort to win this conference. But the 2012 Ravens showed what motivation can do for a team.

Led by a retiring Ray Lewis, the Ravens conquered the AFC and went on to defeat the 49ers in the Super Bowl two years ago. Not many coaches understand how to recognize the talent of a player like Ray Lewis much less how to cultivate it, but if any does, it would be Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis.  Lewis cultivated Ray Lewis into the defensive monster that he became and coordinated Baltimore’s vaunted defense en route to their first Super Bowl win in 2000.  Lewis recognized the talent in Lewis and sees a very similar talent in Burfict.  And on the other side of the equation, these two linebackers see Marvin Lewis in a similar light.  Here’s Ray Lewis on Marvin Lewis (see a longer article regarding these two linebackers by Geoff Hobson from 2012).

"“There is no me without a Marvin Lewis. He was the first one who grabbed me at a very young age and asked me what I wanted to do,” Ray Lewis said this week. “He educated me. He educated me not just on how to make plays, but he educated me on the business side of it and understanding how to conduct myself and all these different things. So I’ve always looked at Marvin as a father figure. So the impact he had on my life was great.”"

And here is Burfict.

"“He wants the best out of me and that’s what I need at this level,” Burfict says. “He’s the father, I’m the son. He sees the potential I have. He’s not setting any limits. Sometimes it gets under my skin, but that’s what I need in order to be better than Ray Lewis, or up to his level. I just need to be pushed.”"

The point here is that the Bengals possess this kind of leader within their defense and, more importantly, their team now; something they’ve lacked in recent years.  Burfict brings them fire and motivation and the Bengals will need much of this if they are to bring home the Lombardi Trophy.

Heading into their fourth season together, both Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis have a motivation of their own to go along with Burfict’s version of it.  Dalton recently signed a heavily incentive-laden contract which comes nowhere near its potential value unless Dalton finds a way to perform in the big moments.  Lewis has backed Dalton from day one and has assumedly tied his coaching future to Dalton.  This isn’t to say that either person is performing to secure their Bengals’ future this year, but if either are to ever accomplish their ultimate goal, the talent this team currently possesses may give them their best shot.

The Bengals will need to do some amazing things in 2014 if they are to accomplish such a lofty goal.  They’ll need to top a couple of legends in the AFC while clawing their way through the ultra-competitive AFC North.  And after all this, they’ll need to beat a team as capable as the defending champion Seattle Seahawks (with their vaunted Legion of Boom) to win the Super Bowl.  But with the improvements the Bengals have made over the off-season and with the maturity they’ve gained over the past three seasons, this team may be poised to accomplish something real special and unique to this franchise; bringing the Lombardi trophy to the Queen City.