NFL Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals: 5 Reasons They Can Win the Super Bowl

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5 Reasons the Cincinnati Bengals Can Win the Super Bowl

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It seems hard to fathom, but a 7-4 division leader with two games in hand on the next closest rival is actually considered an underrated team. But that’s the Cincinnati Bengals for you.

When you look at how this season has gone for the Bengals, it’s hard to complain. The emergence of Giovani Bernard as a weapon out of the backfield. The aforementioned 7-4 record and division lead. And it’s hard to realize without looking, but the Bengals lost a tough game late against the Bears in Week 1 and dropped back-to-back overtime games before throttling the Cleveland Browns in a hugely important divisional game last week. The Bengals could realistically have been 10-1 with some luck and then everyone would be considering them a favorite.

But maybe it’s best that it worked out this way. Now, the Bengals can fly under the radar. They can continue to play their game without all the questions about whether or not they are a true contender or how far people think they can go in the playoffs. Quietly being able to go about your business is an underrated thing these days. Not only that, but as of late the World Champions have come from unlikely places and sported less-than-impressive regular season records. Get hot at the right time and that’s all it really takes.

Not many seem to believe that the black and orange can accomplish the impossible, but I’m here to tell you that they can. Here are five reasons why the Cincinnati Bengals can win Super Bowl XLVIII.

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5. Defense

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

This unit might not get the credit it deserves thanks to the performance being put on over in Kansas City, but the fact of the matter is the Bengals have a defense that is to be reckoned with.

Sure, they’re missing Geno Atkins for the remainder of the season, but this is still a top-five team rushing the passer (34 sacks) and a top-ten unit in terms of interceptions. They are opportunistic and can swing games with huge turnovers at any time. Look at how they swayed the direction of last week’s game against the Browns.

They’re not only good at taking it away but good at limiting the ability of an offense to move the ball period. They are currently sixth against the pass right now, allowing 211.1 yards per game through the air. They’re also tenth against the run (102 ypg). If you’re going to score on the Bengals you’re going to have to earn it.

This is the type of group that can have a lot of success in the playoffs, when things tighten up and turnovers become an even larger part of the game. Atkins or not, this defense will cause waves in the playoffs.

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4. Offensive Talent

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Offensively the Bengals are up and down as can be, and that’s an issue. If you’re going to win a Super Bowl, consistency and efficiency need to be your primary goals on offense.

Andy Dalton has shown that he can be dangerous at times this season and his 2,954 yards passing and 21 touchdowns indicate that. But he does hit stretches where he just isn’t as consistent and becomes a little turnover-prone.

Lucky for him, he’s got weapons to work with. Bernard has become an asset out of the backfield both on running and passing downs. He and BenJarvus Green-Ellis have formed an effective combo so far and will give Dalton options.

It’s in the vertical game that things can become truly dangerous for opponents of the Bengals. A.J. Green is the known commodity; he’s the elite weapon on the outside that can bust a game open on any given play. Whereas it used to be him and him alone, there are now others. Marvin Jones has emerged of late and actually leads the team in touchdown receptions with seven. The Bengals also have a pair of very dangerous tight ends in Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham.

This is a team that can do some damage when things are clicking offensively. If the good Dalton shows up, there might not be another team that can hang with this team on both sides of the ball.

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3. Battle Tested

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

There is one indisputable fact about playing in the AFC North: it’s a war.

One of the advantages the Bengals have heading into the playoffs is the fact that they are constantly in a dogfight with three other solid to good teams in their division. Achieving a winning record in the division is a stepping stone to a big season, and the Bengals have a chance to do just that.

Battling the Ravens, Steelers and Browns twice apiece will leave any team sore, but it will no doubt help the Bengals as things get tougher. They know they can take a good punch, and giving it back will seem like second nature after trading punches with those three tough teams.

Sometimes, there is no more valuable asset than being tough and experienced. Battling a pair of Super Bowl winners on a regular basis can only help the Bengals grow into the contenders they are determined to be.

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2. Easy Schedule

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One of the important things in terms of the playoffs is heading into it with as much momentum as you can. The Bengals have a chance to do that thanks to a relatively easy schedule to close out the regular season.

They get the defensively challenged 4-6 San Diego Chargers, the inconsistent can’t-stop-the-run Indianapolis Colts, a rematch with the Pittsburgh Steelers (who they already beat once), the lowly Minnesota Vikings and finish up the season with the Baltimore Ravens, who they dropped a tough overtime game to.

All of those are very winnable games if the Bengals keep playing the way they have. If they go 4-1 or run the table, imagine the momentum they’ll have going into the playoffs. They’re likely too far behind to get home-field, but being able to carry that momentum into a Wild Card game would be huge and could mean the difference between one-and-done and a long playoff run for the Bengals.

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1. AFC is Winnable

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Perhaps the biggest thing going for the Bengals right now is that the AFC is there for the taking. Think about it: who are the contenders in the conference right now?

The Denver Broncos are the clear favorites and will remain as such until someone topples them, but Peyton Manning’s playoff record is not good. He’s not the same “destroy everything in sight” Manning that we see for 16 games during the regular season. He’s very beatable as the Ravens proved last season.

Then there’s the New England Patriots. They’ve been battling injuries all year and haven’t felt like the same Patriots for a couple of years now. It feels like the end of the line for Tom Brady and company. The Bengals could shove past them on their way to the top.

As for contenders? That’s it. With all due respect to the Colts, they may not have the defense or firepower to win a title just yet. Andrew Luck is special but isn't special enough to win a Super Bowl by himself. And the Chiefs, while in possession of a great defense, haven’t looked like world beaters despite their 9-1 record. The AFC is there for the taking.

If the Bengals get hot they can beat just about anyone, and the AFC isn’t loaded with legitimate contenders. Come January it’s anyone’s game, and the Bengals could find themselves as the last team standing.