Cincinnati Bengals: Why There Are No Excuses for Cincy in 2012
We've seen it twice over the last few seasons—in 2005, the Cincinnati Bengals, led by Carson Palmer, had an epic 11-5 run and made the postseason, only to fall in the first round to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Then in 2006, the Bengals dropped the ball, particularly in a Christmas Eve matchup against the Denver Broncos in Week 16, where a botched extra point was the downfall of the team's season.
Fast forward to 2009: Another improbable run to the postseason saw the Bengals (again) get eliminated in Round 1. And once again, the next season was bad.
Then 2011 came along, and what a magical season it was for the Queen City. Every expert you talked to prior to the season had the Bengals as the worst team in the league, and even thought they'd compete with the 2008 Detroit Lions for being so bad. We all remember Andy Dalton and A.J. Green leading that team of scrappy young athletes to the postseason.
Perhaps the third time is the charm for the Bengals of the 21st century, but Cincinnati has no excuses—this is true now more than ever.
In 2006, we had the Palmer knee injury. In 2010, we had the T.Ocho circus and the ever downward-trending play of Carson Palmer.
In 2012, Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are poised to become stars. The team added a boatload of talent in the draft as well.
Firstly, Devon Still and Brandon Thompson will add to an already incredible defensive line; these two monsters will join Geno Atkins, Domata Peko, Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap. The team should be a bunch of pass-rushing giants.
Add in Dre Kirkpatrick in the secondary, and Terrance Newman to add another veteran presence.
Also, consider that Leon Hall will be back from injury at some point.
Finally (in terms of the defense), the linebackers are going to be fierce. Manny Lawson and Rey Maualuga are due for breakout years (right???). Thomas Howard was impressive in 2011. Dontay Moch will finally see the field. And can you imagine if Vontaze Burfict should happen to work out?
Looking at the offense, the team added BenJarvus Green-Ellis to the backfield and drafted Mohammed Sanu and Marvin Jones to the receiving corps. Tight ends will be tough to cover for everyone, as Jermaine Gresham is fresh off a great season and now has help in Orson Charles.
Andrew Whitworth will continue to be an underrated left tackle, blocking for Dalton, and he now has the help of Kevin Zeitler.
All of these things together make the Bengals Super Bowl contenders. Yes I said it: Super Bowl contenders.
There's no reason for things to fall apart in Cincinnati now—let's hope Mike Brown doesn't blow it up somehow.
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