Bengals’ 50th anniversary will bring 1st Super Bowl

jforeman
Jun 13, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A view of Cincinnati Bengals helmets minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A view of Cincinnati Bengals helmets minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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After years of futility and close calls, the Bengals will have a chance to prove they’ve turned the corner. The 50th anniversary will bring a first.

It has been 50 years since one of the greatest minds in NFL history brought the Orange and Black machine to the banks of Ohio. In that time, there have been a lot of up and downs (mostly downs), but there has never been a Lombardi Trophy. As I sit here writing the first article I have ever written, I am faced with the realization that there is always a first for everything. The Bengals first will come on Sunday, February 4, 2018. Maybe I’m an optimist. Maybe I’m a sports Nostradamus, or I could be just a babbling fool. But, I do not make this prediction light hardheartedly.

Problems with the Offensive Line 

After a 6-9-1 season and the loss of Andrew Whitworth, Kevin Zeitler, Domata Peko, Rex Burkhead, Karlos Dansby, and Margus Hunt to free agency, it may appear that there is no reason to be optimistic. After the offensive line finished 23 last year, giving up 41 sacks and only averaging 4.0 yards per carry, the Bengals lost their 2 best offensive linemen in Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler. That does not bode well for Andy Dalton & Co. and appears to be why Pro Football Focus and many others have them missing out on the playoffs again this year.

While the incredible play and outstanding character of Whitworth and Zeitler will be missed by every Bengals fan, I am excited to see the changing of the guards. I agree with the pundits; a line with Cedric Ogbuehi, Clint Boling, Russell Bodine, Andre Smith, and Jake Fisher, is not as good as a line with Whitworth, Boling, Bodine, Zeitler, and Ogbuehi. If these changes were the only offseason experiments, I would also agree with the analysts that this season will be another playoff miss. This is not the case though. The Bengals didn’t just get younger on the offensive line, they got younger all over the field.

Youth Brings Promise

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Like Jose Rizal said, “The youth is the hope of our future.” John Ross, Joe Mixon, Carl Lawson, Jordan Willis, Andrew Billings, Kevin Minter, and Nick Vigil are all young players that should see a substantial amount of playing time this year. That is a younger linebacker corps, offensive line, defensive line, wide receiver depth, and improved backfield.

With faster wide receivers and an upgrade at running back, I think this offense can hide any offensive line deficiencies. Plus, with the additions in the Bengals front seven, they should be a tough group to deal with this year and should be part of a very good defense. Add the new youth with the seasoned veterans like Dalton, A.J. Green, Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, Tyler Eifert, and Vontaze Burfict; suddenly you get a group with experience, physicality, and speed that should be hard to beat.

Hungry to Defy History

This is Marvin Lewis‘ last year under contract and he has a lot to prove to get an extension. The team is coming off of a very disappointing season, riddled with injuries, and also has a lot to prove. The team and coach are hungry and desperate to win. Two years ago the Bengals had–at the time–a 24-year, long-awaited playoff win ripped away from them in the final minutes. That has resonated with the team for over a year now.

This season, they come in and avenge the past, avenge Lewis and his 15 years with no playoff wins. They finally avenge Dalton and the knock that he can not perform in prime time. The Bengals avenge the Super Bowl losses to the 49ers, and the 26 years of no playoff wins. It has been 49 years of hope and no Super Bowl.

Next: That Trio Threat

But, this team is different from any group in those past years. This Bengals team is young and built around veterans in their prime that have been to five of the last six playoffs. This time, the Bengals do more than win a playoff game. They win it all.

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