Will Cincinnati Bengals’ defense or offense set the tone?

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PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Fitzgerald Toussaint #33 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is gang tackled by the Cincinnati Bengals defense in the first quarter during the game at Heinz Field on September 18, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Fitzgerald Toussaint #33 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is gang tackled by the Cincinnati Bengals defense in the first quarter during the game at Heinz Field on September 18, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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The Cincinnati Bengals are in a unique situation. With so much talent on offense and defense, either unit will be able to dominate the opponent.

Much has been said about the Bengals horrendous offensive showing last year. The biggest disappointment came from the O-line and the lack of protection for Andy Dalton. While fans were busy scouring the draft boards for a worthy set of bodies to replace Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, the Cincinnati brain trust was busy getting the overall structure ready for 2017.

To the dismay and glee of fans, the Bengals didn’t play the best player game. Even though the rookies wearing Stripes are a definite upgrade, picks were made that will fortify Cincy on all fronts.

Marvin Lewis & Co. could have easily gone with the typical names that were out there. But, they waited and the players were there to be taken. Now, it’s a matter of getting the pieces meshed together and having the confidence to do what analysts doubt. They have a chance to be dominant on offense or defense.

What Those X’s Do?

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Since Mike Zimmer was able to install a system that demands the most from its players, the Bengals have been known for defense. It may not come across that way, but football purists admire the Double- A gap blitz scheme the Bengals use. We won’t dwell on the subject, but Zimmer turned a mediocre defense into a respectable unit.

With most of the big-name players coming back from injuries or down years, this could be the year. The Bengals’ defense could surprise the doubters and be the anchor the offense needs. In fact, the defense has the weapons needed to make a run at some of the long-standing records in Cincinnati’s history.

Rookie Carl Lawson has been impressive and should get more attention going into training camp. Nick Vigil has been steadily improving and looks like a starter.

"“He looks a lot better,” Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. “I always say in between your first and second year you’ve got to make the biggest jump. He knows where to be, what the schedule’s going to be like. He’s not a rookie anymore. So he’s on top of things that way.”"

Kevin Minter will be a monster in the mix and so will the always enthusiastic Vontaze Burfict. The secondary will get help from William Jackson III and Andrew Billings will be on the line next to–his twin–Geno Atkins.

What’s not to like about the D?

Oh Those O’s

The Bengals’ offense looks like a Murderer’s Row of offensive talent. Granted, this is all on paper right now. But, as the season draws closer, the talent will shine through.

The running game will surely snap back to life, with Joe Mixon trying to prove he belongs. Jeremy Hill has a chip on his shoulder also. Then there’s the saga of Giovani Bernard. Look for him to grab playing time as he continues to heal.

Next: Bengals Need To Honor The Past

Dropping names will be fun, this year. On any given Sunday John Ross, A.J. Green and Josh Malone could all have deep TDs from Dalton. Cody Core is making a strong bid for playing time. Sigh. It’s a great time to be a Bengals fan.

When the defense is having trouble, the offense will be able to score. Last year, when the defense was pitching a shutout, there was no firepower from the offense. This year, there will be balance like never before. Now, it’s all about that postseason win.

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