5 Reasons Why Bengals Will Win Super Bowl 50

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Oct 11, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap (96) celebrates against the Seattle Seahawks in overtime at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati defeated Seattle 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

3. Cincinnati’s defense gets the job done when it matters most.

Oct 4, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko (94) reacts during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati defeated Kansas City 36-21. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 Bengals defense was by far the worst defense this Bengals has team has fielded since Andy Dalton took over at quarterback in 2011. The team couldn’t get to the quarterback, it gave up far too many yards on a weekly basis, it crumbled when the offense couldn’t put up points and it had far too many issues stopping the run. Sure, some of those issues wouldn’t have existed if Geno Atkins and Vontaze Burfict were fully healthy, but the unit’s severe inability to stop opposing offenses was simply inexcusable.

In 2015, however, things are much different. Paul Guenther finally looks comfortable in his second season as Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator, and his defense has improved by leaps and bounds. Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins have been fantastic, tallying nine collective sacks in their first five games of the season. Atkins already has more sacks this season this season than he had in all of 2014, and Dunlap is on pace to shatter his single-season sack record. The return of Michael Johnson and improved play from Domata Peko have vastly improved boosted the Bengals’ run defense, and the linebackers’ competent play in Burfict’s absence has been a testament to the depth on defense; the additions of A.J. Hawk and P.J. Dawson look like some of Cincinnati’s greatest moves of the offseason. George Iloka‘s return to health is huge for the Bengals’ defense; he’s one of the best safeties in the league, and he will help a secondary that has struggled to find playmakers behind Adam Jones (who is quietly having a Pro Bowl-caliber season, by the way).

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This defense showed what it’s made of in Cincinnati’s victory over Seattle. While the 2014 unit packed its bags every time the team went down last season, the 2015 defense held its own and dominated throughout the fourth quarter of Week 5, giving Andy Dalton a chance to make plays on offense and lead the Bengals to a 17-point fourth-quarter comeback. The Bengals stopped the Seahawks on five consecutive drives, forcing Seattle to keep punting the ball back to a hot Cincinnati offense. The defense shut out the Oakland Raiders for three straight quarters before pulling out its starters and held the Kansas City Chiefs to seven field goals and zero touchdowns. This Bengals defense is nasty, and although there is still room for improvement, Guenther’s D is light years ahead of where it was in 2014.

Next: Coaching is Key