Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
It really is a simple question.
Have the Bengals matured into a team that can compete with contenders? The answer the past two seasons has been a resounding "no." Look no further than the postseason collapses of the past two years for proof of that.
Furthermore, Cincinnati has failed to impress against teams with winning records. There's something to be said for judging team's records when they actually played Cincinnati, but looking at how each team wound up gives a better idea as to how good the team truly was over the long term.
The numbers speak for themselves. In the past two seasons, Cincinnati has defeated only three teams with a winning record. That speaks both to how much the team struggles against legit competition at times and how easy the Bengals schedule has been.
2013 is no walk in the park schedule-wise, at least upon first glance. New England, Green Bay and Indianapolis pay visits, while road games against Chicago, Detroit and Miami could pose some serious issues. That doesn't even touch upon the ultra-competitive AFC North, which features the defending Super Bowl champions, an always competitive rival looking to return to the playoffs and a new-look team looking to make some noise.
Things are not as easy as they seem for Cincinnati, talented roster or not. Time will tell if the Bengals grow up in 2013.
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