Why The Cincinnati Bengals Are Going to the Super Bowl

Dave StoneContributor IOctober 14, 2009

BALTIMORE - OCTOBER 11:  Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks passes against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 11, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Bengals defeated the Ravens 17-14. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

The Bengals have enjoyed one winning season in the past 18 years.  It was 2005.  They won the North but hosted and lost to the eventual Super Bowl XL Champion Steelers.  Probably seems like ages ago.

Four long years later, with Carson Palmer back in good health, the Bengals are 4-1 including wins over Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Green Bay....and...uh, Cleveland.  So three impressive W's and only a crazy play by Brandon Stokley away from being 5-0.

It's early in the season, and everyone's waiting for the Bengals to fall flat on their faces.  But this year, I don't think that's going to happen.  Here's 5 reasons:

1. Cedric Benson is leading the league in rushing.  He's a powerful, bruising, downhill runner.  The cold weather in Cincinnati in January will only help the Bengals' running game.

2. Carson Palmer is leading Cincinnati to victories in close games on the road.  If the Bengals have to travel to Indy or Denver in the playoffs, the offense will be poised.

3. The AFC is down this year.  Indy and Denver are undefeated, but injuries could catch up with the Colts and reality could catch up with the Broncos.

4. Houshmandzadeh is gone.  He admitted that he wanted the Bengals to lose every game this year once he left the team back in March.  Interpret this anyway you want, but something tells me he wasn't a very good teammate and the Bengals are much better off without him.

5. No one is talking about them.  No one expects them to continue winning.  They have a calm, confident field leader in Palmer, a rejuvenated defense, and much to prove.