Cincinnati Bengals: 1988 and Now

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Nov 13, 1988; Kansas City, MO, USA; FILE PHOTO; Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Anthony Munoz (78) on the sidelines against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit Herb Weitman-USA TODAY Sports

By now, most people know that the 2015 Bengals currently have the same record as the 1988 AFC Championship Bengals had through six games. Led by quarterback Boomer Esiason, the 1988 Bengals were one of the best teams not win a Super Bowl of all time. The comparisons between the ’88 Bengals and the 2015 Bengals don’t stop at just records; even from a position-to-position level, the two teams are eerily similar. So let’s take a look at how the 2015 Bengals closely resemble the great ’88 Bengals.

The Gritty QB

After one of the worst seasons of his career, Boomer Esiason bounced back in 1988, showing grit and determination and guiding Cincinnati to a 6-0 start. He wanted to prove that he could not only get the job done but that he was the guy to do it. Esiason was the NFL MVP of the 1988 season, passing for 3,572 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also averaged a career-high 9.2 yards-per-attempt and had a passer rating of 97.4. Esiason led the Bengals to a 12-4 record, highlighted by three fourth-quarter comebacks, and ultimately, he took his team to the Super Bowl.

Andy Dalton is showing leadership and heart in 2015, something many people didn’t think he had entering the season. Like Esiason, Dalton has grit, confidence and determination that drives him to do succeed and to push the team to be the best it can be. The Red Rifle is off to the best start of his career with 1,761 yards passing, 14 touchdowns and only two interceptions through six games. His 9.1 yards-per-attempt is eerily close to Esiason’s 9.2, and his 116.1 passer rating is second-best among NFL quarterbacks. With the success he’s having, Dalton looks like he could follow in Esiason’s footsteps, potentially having an MVP-caliber season and leading the Bengals on a potential Super Bowl run.

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