The Cincinnati Bengals have been one of the best teams in the AFC over the past five years, but they've taken another step forward with their 9-2 start to this season, putting them in contention to get a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Here are three things we've learned about the Bengals so far this season:
Balance on both sides of the ball
Nowadays, NFL teams often rely on being dominant on one side of the ball and just passable on the other - not the Bengals. Cincinnati is most well-rounded team in the NFL, ranking fourth in the league in points per game (27) and first in points allowed (17.5 per game). There are no weak parts of this team - simply parts that aren't as strong as others, and that's gone a long way this year.
Andy Dalton has emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the league
Dalton's not on the same level as Tom Brady or Drew Brees from a pure passing standpoint, but he's been as effective as anyone in the NFL this year. He's completing 65.7 percent of his passes for 2,971 yards, 23 touchdowns, and most importantly, just six interceptions. The "Red Rocket" has aleady thrown more touchdown passes this year than he did all of last year, and is on pace to throw half as many interceptions.
Because of those factors, his quarterback rating has jumped from the mid-80's for his career to an eye-popping 105.3. If he keeps playing like this, it's going to be extremely hard to knock off Cincinnati in the playoffs.
They're legitimate Super Bowl contenders
Cincinnati has finally put it all together. We've called the Bengals contenders in years past, but they've still been a flawed team - not this year. Dalton's playing at an extremely high level, they have weapons all over the field, dominant line play on both sides of the ball, and a reliable defense. The only thing holding this team back is the fact that they haven't done it before - everything else is there, and they're one of the favorites in the AFC because of it.Back to the Cincinnati Bengals Newsfeed