How good are the Cincinnati Bengals this year?

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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 11: Temmates Andy Dalton
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 11: Temmates Andy Dalton /
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The Cincinnati Bengals have enough firepower to go all the way to the Super Bowl. But, are they really that good this season?

The 2017 version of the Cincinnati Bengals has something to prove. They come into the year with a lingering funk that has to be removed. Not only is there a revenge factor from last season, the ghost of 2015 is still lurking in the locker rooms of PBS. The current roster of warriors wearing Orange & Black are more than capable of making the playoffs and going even further.

Honestly, the Bengals are one of the most underrated teams in the NFL. After posting a dismal 6-9-1 record for 2016, experts quickly wrote the team off as a repeat offender for the following year. Truthfully, when the Bengals decided to part ways with Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, most fans were ready to throw in the towel. Letting a leader walk and a young stud catch on with a division rival seemed like an untreatable psychosis.

Yet, there was a plan in place that fans didn’t really comprehend. While the cry was for the offensive line to get an overhaul, the Bengals brain trust decided to light a fire under the current cast of characters. By adding a few pieces, Cincinnati has gone from a slow and plodding wannabe…to a capable contender.

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It’s a rite of passage each season. The Bengals get no respect, analysts predict they’ll fold, miraculously they make the playoffs. In the midst of debunking the predictions, they hit a one-and-done and get booted from the postseason. Frankly, it’s like a well-oiled doomsday clock that keeps resetting.

This year’s unit isn’t talking playoffs. They’re politely offering thoughts about the Super Bowl. That kind of talk is rare. It hasn’t been heard around Cincinnati since the teams of 1981 and ‘88. But, this group of players has the talent and attitude to get them to the AFC Championship game. After that, it’s all about who wants it more.

From an offensive standpoint, this squad is capable of hanging with any team in the league. The firepower that comes with John Ross and Josh Malone will quiet doubters. In fact, Malone and Ross will quietly become the Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu they missed in 2016. But, the offensive fireworks aren’t limited to the receivers. Joe Mixon will be a strong candidate to get more snaps.

Getting Defensive

Remember Andrew Billings and William Jackson? Well, those guys are back and healthy. The addition of Kevin Minter to a loaded linebacker room is going to be fun. There won’t be any need to experiment with a 3-4 scheme. Carl Lawson can put a hand on the ground or burn around the edge from a linebacker stance. There are so many toys to tinker with.

The attitude will be straight ahead and hard-nosed. Just what the Bengals need. No time for cry babies.

Next: Actions Over Words

"“I’m a young guy with fresh legs coming in,” Minter said, per Bengals.com. “I was one of the main play-callers out there in AZ (Arizona) and I could bring that to the table. They’re getting a guy that’s going to go hard on every play. Plain and simple.”"

It’s a go hard or go home type of year. And the Bengals have the athletes to get it done.

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