NFL Cincinnati Bengals

Top 10 Players That Will Lead Cincinnati Bengals to 2013 Playoffs

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10 Players That Will Lead Bengals to 2013 Playoffs

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati has turned into quite the football city lately with the emergence of the Cincinnati Bengals. They have become one of the league's most exciting young teams. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are two huge reasons for this — becoming one of the NFL's most exciting connections.

They have a solid offense which helped them contend for a division title in 2012, but their defense was the biggest surprise. They were the seventh best team in the league in rushing defense and 12th best in passing defense.

There's no doubt that this team has arrived under Marvin Lewis. He has been the head coach of the Bengals since 2003 and has brought four teams to the playoffs in that time frame. Before Lewis' time, the Bengals made the playoffs just seven times in franchise history.

Having one of the up-and-coming teams isn't necessarily new to Lewis as he has been in this position before, but now he has two of his best players under the age of 25 and after this year's draft, they may make the jump from good to great.

It's hard to see the Bengals missing the playoffs this year, but anything is possible in the NFL.

With most of the team returning from a 10-6 season and an appearance in the playoffs for the second straight season, the Bengals appear to be poised for a strong playoff push and more in 2013.

Here are 10 players that will lead Cincinnati to the playoffs and beyond.

Connor Muldowney is a College Football writer for Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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10. Geno Atkins

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Geno Atkins had career highs in every category in 2012, including sacks, tackles and forced fumbles. He is becoming an elite defensive tackle in the NFL, leading all interior lineman in sacks last season with 12.5.

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9. Rey Maualuga

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Rey Maualuga is a part of one of the most talented young linebacking crews in the league. He had is career-high in tackles last year(122) and started all 16 games.

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8. Jermaine Gresham

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Solid tight ends are a quarterback's best friend. Jermaine Gresham is just that and showed it last season, becoming one of Dalton's favorite targets with 64 catches and five touchdowns.

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7. Michael Johnson

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Michael Johnson had career-highs in most statistical categories last season. His 11.5 sacks as a defensive end was one of the best marks in the league and will carry that over into his fifth season.

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6. Reggie Nelson

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With 85 tackles and three picks last year, the seventh-year veteran Reggie Nelson has had 85 tackles in each of the past two season. Pretty impressive numbers from a safety.

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5. Vontaze Burfict

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His troubles off the field have yet to overshadow his on-field success in the NFL, but Vontaze Burfict could be one of the best rookies in Cincinnati Bengal history.

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4. Terence Newman

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Terence Newman is a veteran that will look to teach the younger members of the secondary and instill his wisdom with the team. He had 75 tackles and two picks last year while starting all 15 games he appeared in.

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3. BenJarvus Green-Ellis

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BenJarvus Green-Ellis had over 1,000 yards rushing in 2012 and will look to improve on all of his numbers in 2013. He had career highs in nearly every category, but needs to improve his pass-catching ability.

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2. Andy Dalton

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While the quarterback is usually the number one player on lists of 10 players that will lead a certain team to the playoffs, I think Dalton has some improving to do before that can happen. He had a solid year in 2012, but he needs to cut down his interceptions in the Bengals want to make a deep run.

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1. A.J. Green

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A.J. Green comes in at No. 1 on the list because he could end up being one of the best players in the NFL this season. He had 97 catches for over 1,300 yards and made his second Pro Bowl in his first two years. Scary good.