Cincinnati Bengals: Are They Really Super Bowl Ready?

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Jul 29, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (25) runs drills during training camp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 29, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (25) runs drills during training camp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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Are the Cincinnati Bengals Super Bowl ready? Friday’s game against Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings will answer some questions.

At the end of the 2015 season, the Cincinnati Bengals looked tough. They had made their way through a tough schedule and were playoff bound. Last year ended like so many others. The January 9 playoff game effectively ended their Super Bowl run. Friday night’s clash with the Minnesota Vikings will help answer a few questions. Are the Bengals ready to take the next step?

Since the start of the Dalton-Green era, the Men in Stripes have been competitive. Each year, both the offense and defense have taken steps to improve. Head coach Marvin Lewis and Co. have kept the team together. There have been key additions through the draft and they’ve added talented free agents. This year’s edition of the Orange and Black is no exception.

With that in mind, the preseason battle with the Vikings can be a marker. The Vikings have turned things around, under head coach Mike Zimmer. The Vikes’ defense has been tweaked. The terminology may be different, but the controlled chaos should be the same. Playing against Zimmer will be a true test. The Bengals will need to be creative, without showing too much. 

How will the game prove they’re Super Bowl ready? Beating the Vikings won’t instantly propel Cincinnati to postseason status. But, the preparation and execution will show what they’re capable of doing.

Last season belonged to the Bengals. Until the unfortunate fumble by Jeremy Hill, the Bengals were favored to reach the Super Bowl. Hill shouldn’t be blamed for the collapse. When Andy Dalton broke his thumb, owner Mike Brown realized things looked bad. He was in disbelief. The dynamics had changed. 

“When Andy got hurt that was about the biggest single adverse thing that could happen to us,” Brown recently admitted, via Bengals.com. “I said to Pete (his brother), there goes our shot.”

Dalton is back and his thumb looks fine. During camp, his passes are crisp and on target. There seem to be no lingering after effects. Dalton’s a big reason the Bengals have a shot at making the Super Bowl.

The Red Rifle back in action and the top-tier defense will return. Jim Haslett will be helping that fearsome unit. Haslett signed on for a good reason He wants to get a ring. That sounds familiar. The bulk of talk around training camp has been about Super Bowl rings.

Brandon LaFell wants a ring. Linebacker Karlos Dansby is looking for a “winning” ring. Now, Haslett expressed his desire, per Sports Illustrated.

Haslett wanted a team that would give him the best shot at a ring. He picked the Bengals. His wife played a large role in persuading him.

"“Well, don’t worry about the money. Don’t worry about the place. Let’s go see if we win us some games. If we have a chance to win the Super Bowl, let’s go see if we can.”"

It’s not about the talent. They have plenty of that. It’s not about confidence. The players have garnered the respect.Now, the bottom line is changing the culture. It’s no longer acceptable to make the postseason. This is the year to provide rings.

Next: We're Talkin' About Practice

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