NFL Preview: Cincinnati Bengals and 5 Teams That Won't Be as Bad as You Think
Not every team in the NFL is equally talented, but the majority of teams are around the same area code. Many are quick to write off previous under-achievers or squads that are just solid without being spectacular in any certain category.
Preseason play has showed glimpses of hope for every team and its fans, but here are the NFL teams that will outshine the gloom they are supposed to fall under.
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Many want to slate Buffalo to the bottom of the AFC East, but not so fast.
Chan Gailey will get the ground game to produce just like he has everywhere he has been. Now that the Bills have given up on Aaron Maybin, they have a healthy looking Shawne Merriman to strike fear in quarterbacks like Chad Henne.
Marcell Dareus is a great pairing with Kyle Williams and the front three in Buffalo is better than what Miami has for their 3-4. Secondary wise, Buffalo is not that far behind Vernon Davis and company when McKelvin is healthy.
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The Bengals won't set the world on fire, but they have some of the fundamental parts of a solid team:
Their coach has a long tenure, the ground game has a good back with a big offensive line, the defense will be good.
Andy Dalton is a rookie, but it's not as if he's much less experienced than Colt McCoy. At TCU, Dalton spent hours on hours in the film room and that work ethic will help his rookie season not be a complete disaster.
Dalton has much better options to throw to as well, including not only AJ Green but many other recent draft picks like Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley.
Zimmer has some players to work with defensively. Carlos Dunlap came on strong the last six games, recording 8.5 sacks. The pass rush also includes Michael Johnson who is improving.
Linebackers Keith Rivers and Rey Maualuga are solid on the second level to stop the run if Peko doesn't get to the ball carrier. The Bengals will finish ahead of the Browns but way behind the Steelers and Ravens.
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Mike Shanahan may have to juggle quarterbacks but the team has talented players spread out.
The defense has added Ryan Kerrigan across from Brian Orakpo and so far Kerrigan has gotten to quarterbacks with some consistency.
Santana Moss looks to still be on HGH from Dr. Galea, blowing by corners in the preseason.
Tim Hightower is a steal for a mid-round draft selection as he and Roy Helu look to be the two punch attack Mike Shanahan will love in his zone blocking scheme.
If Ryan Torain can find good health, it's a good problem to have. What isn't a good problem to have is two mediocre quarterbacks and not knowing which will start. It'll be John Beck when it's all said and done.
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The best quarterback tends to win this division all the time, so Kevin Kolb will have to prove he can play.
While St. Louis's defense is good, it's nothing exceptional on the back end to cover Larry Fitzgerald. Arizona's defense is experienced but not too old.
Safety Adrian Wilson will fight through a torn biceps and that will be huge if he can play near his standards.
The schedule for the Cardinals is pathetic.
Even if Kolb isn't what Reid and Wisenhunt think he'll crack up to be, he can play better than many of the quarterbacks on the schedule.
The division sees a lot of turnover because of mediocrity and the Cardinals are in prime position to take advantage of a young quarterbacked team in St. Louis.
The Cardinals will win the division but will not make the Super Bowl like the last time they did so.
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Now that the Tebow issue is somewhat resolved, John Fox and the Broncos can focus on winning.
Kyle Orton is easily the second best quarterback in the AFC West with Brandon Lloyd to play catch with.
Fox's running style will provide Orton with a ground attack that he has never had before, not in Chicago or Denver.
Elvis Dumervil is returning from a chest injury that kept him out all of 2010 and there's Von Miller on the opposite side of the line.
The two may be the smallest defensive end combination in the league, but they can find quarterbacks.
Pairing the pass rush with Champ Bailey on the back end will hurt opponent's chances of getting big yards through the air.
If Denver can eat the clock with the ground game, opponents will be forced to throw more often. Second place in the AFC West will be the fate for Fox and his team.