The Cincinnati Bengals have been good for a couple of years now, making the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1981-1982. After an ugly divorce with quarterback Carson Palmer, the Bengals went with Andy Dalton as his replacement, and the change has put new life into the team. Paired with wide receiver A.J. Green, Dalton is one of the brighter young QBs in the game today.
After a productive offseason of player acquisitions, many are beginning to wonder if the Bengals are now the favorites to win the AFC North in 2013. The Baltimore Ravens are going through a retooling process, and you could say the same for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Of the three squads, Cincinnati seems to have the best team, top to bottom, at this juncture.
But as we all know, what a team looks like on paper, has no bearing on what actually happens on Sundays. The Bengals, while seemingly in the best position to make a run at the AFC North crown, still have to go out and beat their tough divisional rivals, and the many other talented teams across the league.
The first five games on the Bengals’ schedule, are intriguing, and I think we’ll know for sure just how good they really are, just over a quarter of the way through 2013.
Week 1 – @ Chicago Bears
Week 2 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 3 – Green Bay Packers
Week 4 – @ Cleveland Browns
Week 5 – New England Patriots
As you can see, the Bengals are in for a challenge to start the season. Beginning with a tough road challenge at Soldier Field, and then four games full of divisional and top-level opponents. Just on what we know about these teams today, I’d say coming out of this stint with three wins, would be a victory for the Bengals. Once we see how they look in those first five games, then it’s okay to talk about winning the AFC North.
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