Cincinnati Bengals’ best bets for defensive dominance

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CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Carlos Dunlap #96 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after a defensive stop during the third quarter of the game against the Denver Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Carlos Dunlap #96 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after a defensive stop during the third quarter of the game against the Denver Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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When it comes to offense, the Bengals will be able to hang with some of the best this season. But, don’t sleep on the defense.

When Bengals fans are locked into football mode, it’s usually an offensive mindset. But, this current team has the muscle to boast a bevy of defensive bullies. The defense has been gaining a reputation, under the guidance of DC Paul Guenther. His work has produced a unit that flirted with being the top scoring D in 2015. Now, the plan is to get over the hump and be the best. With the talent on hand, it could happen this year.

The front seven is going to be a unit that causes quarterbacks to shudder at the line. The return of Andrew Billings has fans dreaming of double-digit sack counts (no White Castles). Paired with Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and possibly Will Clarke, the sky’s the limit for the Men in Stripes.

So many toys and so little time to figure out how to make them weapons. Speaking of the line, it would be rude to forget about Brandon Thompson. He was handling his business, until he blew out his ACL. No, he’s not going to be a free agent in 2017. The Bengals have restructured his contract while allowing him to rehab with the team. As he continues to improve, there’s a good possibility he could shine before camp is over.

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Vontaze Burfict is the Money Train. Coaches are looking to him as the unchallenged leader of the defense. Burfict has put in the work and made it look easy. In fact, he’s in the best shape of his career. Look for him to be First Team All-Pro and a lock for the Pro Bowl. When he’s selected, hopefully, he acknowledges the attention and declines to play. The Bengals can’t afford to have him suffer a freak injury in a meaningless game.

Looking for another freakishly talented player to root for? Feast your eyes upon the skills of Carl Lawson. His speed and agility could easily have him being compared to Von Miller.

Resident sack master Dunlap was pleased with what he saw during OTAs. But, he wants to witness the phenom in the weight and heat of pads.

Next: The Bounceback Year

"“He’s relying on his natural ability so now we’re trying to cover that with the educational part,” said Dunlap, after an earlier practice. “He’s a natural edge rusher, he’s asking a lot of questions. He wants to be a sponge. I think he can help us, but let’s see what happens in pads. Everyone is dressed for the part now.”"

No matter what, the Bengals have a host of great players vying for positions. Sit back and enjoy the competition.

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