Is this the team Bengals fans have been waiting for?

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CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 4: Dre Kirkpatrick #27 of the Cincinnati Bengals congratulates Carlos Dunlap #96 of the Cincinnati Bengals after sacking Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the third quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 4: Dre Kirkpatrick #27 of the Cincinnati Bengals congratulates Carlos Dunlap #96 of the Cincinnati Bengals after sacking Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the third quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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The 2017 edition of the Cincinnati Bengals could be the team fans have been waiting for. They have the parts needed to make some heads turn.

Of course, it’s way too early for predictions of the Super Bowl. But, looking at the makeup of this year’s version of the Bengals, one can make a valid argument for why they could be in Minneapolis come February 4. The moves made in free agency were minimal. Yet, the draft was one that caught fans and experts by surprise. The Bengals were able to snag quality players that will make an immediate impact and–quite possibly–make them an instant contender.

Have Bengals faithful been dreaming of this type of team? The mantra has been fixated on winning a playoff game, for the past 24 years. In the Dalton-Green era, young fans have been waiting a mere six years. However, that doesn’t lessen their pain. The playoff drought could come to an end, during the 2017 campaign. Andy Dalton has speedy weapons on offense and DC Paul Guenther has an arsenal of dangerous bodies to tinker around with.

Realistically, this could be the year that takes the Bengals over the top. It’s Week 2 of the preseason, but expectations are running extremely high for this team. The feel around camp seems to be a huge dose of confidence. Why should Bengals fans feel different about this version of the Orange & Black?

The Bounceback Is Inevitable 

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It’s always nice to write a serious hype piece about your favorite team. That’s the part of this gig I love the most. But, there’s a distinct difference between blowing smoke and having a genuine reason to get geeked about the possibilities.

The Bengals quietly went about improving the team, while looking like they didn’t give a darn about 2017. As the offensive line woes dominated headlines, Marvin Lewis & Co. concentrated on securing solid rookies to bolster the overall team dynamics. Huh? In other words, the rookie class is ready to do some damage in its first year.

Joe Mixon has been the missing elixir since stepping foot on the turf at PBS. No, I don’t have an unbreakable man crush on Joe. But, I do have a devoted desire to see the Bengals win. And with Mixon running as hard as he does, that’s definitely in the cards. He brings an air of electricity and hunger to the running game. Honestly, his presence will push the other RBs to put their best forward. A little camp competition is never a bad thing. Lewis noticed his drive also.

"“From the very first rookie camp here in Cincinnati, you felt that, but you aren’t sure because it’s a very limited exposure. Now that’s a day-to-day thing with the ups and downs in camp — being tired, being asked to run and finish every play. He likes to do that. He likes to run down that field like he is scoring a touchdown, and we are going to give him a lot of opportunities to do that. That’s just part of his makeup, and that’s good.”"

…Inevitable

It’s not only about Mixon. Josh Malone, John Ross and a host of other Bengals are locked and loaded for the new season.

There’s also the fact that Lewis will be coaching to save his life. Well, not literally. But, he’ll be under the gun to produce error free, dominating football for the city of Cincinnati. It’s time out for the desire to win a playoff game. This unit has a chance to make some noise in the postseason and be cocky while doing it.

Next: Hopkins In Prime Position To Start

It’s always been one or the other with the Bengals. Either the offense is high-powered or the defense is lights out. Going into the 2017 campaign, the Stripes have a chance to be that one-of-a-kind team which encompasses a blunt-force defense with a scary offense.

Is it too early to reserve tickets for Minneapolis? Probably. But, the Bengals look like a team that could surprise all their doubters and make a few heads turn in the postseason.

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