The Cincinnati Bengals finished up a organizational best 8-0 start and a 12-4 season, as well as a fifth straight playoff appearance. Should the Bengals still be treated as an underdog?
The Cincinnati Bengals are behind the Steelers in most books, including Vegas to win the Super Bowl. Doesn’t sound like a huge deal but it means two things. First, the Bengals and Steelers would both have to make the playoffs and second, the Steelers match ups would have to be favorable compared to the Bengals. So are the Bengals the underdog in the AFC North still?
The short answer is, Yes! Many analyst see the Bengals as making the playoffs but struggling with payoff caliber teams, like Pittsburgh. They see a team that has lost five straight playoff appearances and hasn’t won a playoff game in over 25 years.
After last seasons last minute meltdown, the Bengals are more determined than ever. Brandon LaFell, who has a super bowl ring is convinced, and so is Karlos Dansby, who believes the Bengals give him a great chance at a Super Bowl ring. New players like William Jackson III and Tyler Boyd are players who can make an immediate impact.
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So why are they underdogs? The Steelers will return their starting running back, Le’Veon Bell, who missed half the season. On the other side however, they lost Martavis Bryant for the season, thanks to a fourth failed drug test, disqualifying him for the entire 2016 season. Let’s also look at the fact, Ben Roethlisberger isn’t getting younger and is starting to face that his body doesn’t bounce right back after injury.
The Cincinnati Bengals will be missing a key player to start the season, when Vontaze Burfict serves his four game suspension. The Bengals were 6-0 without Burfict last season, and they added a few more pieces with Dansby and Nick Vigil joining this solid defensive core. They brought in a key run defender with Andrew Billings from Baylor through the draft.
This Bengals team should be the team to beat. They are the standard for how the NFL is meant to run, Draft, Develop, Re-sign. It is time that the NFL start to take the Bengals seriously, although it may take winning a playoff game. Marvin Lewis is not the problem, but he can be the solution with the core group of guys in 2016.