Throughout the Cincinnati Bengals‘ 42-28 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday afternoon, there was absolutely no doubting who was the better team. From the get-go, the Bengals were on the front foot, as quarterback Andy Dalton tossed the ball with efficiency and the running back duo of Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis ensured that the team kept the ball for 37:45 of the game.
This allowed the team to get out to a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter that the team’s defense would preserve, and a message was sent from the entirety of the Bengals to the NFL that they are the real deal.
With the victory on Sunday, the Bengals advance to 9-4 in 2013, which virtually ensures that they will be AFC North champions. Currently, the Baltimore Ravens are the closest team in the division at 7-6, and with three games to play in the regular season, it would appear virtually impossible that Cincinnati could blow this one.
Their final three games are against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings and the Ravens, and the final two games are at home. One win should be enough to take up the division, and two makes it a certainty, and after watching Cincinnati in 2013, it would be no surprise to see them win all three games.
While in past years there have been genuine questions as to whether or not the Bengals are the real deal, this is certainly not the case in 2013. They have a physical defense that has shown the ability to stop both offenses and defenses with relative ease throughout 2013, and their offensive weapons can put points on the board against any team. After losing out in the Wild Card round in the first round, it is certain that Dalton and the rest of the roster have matured and will be there deep into the playoffs.
Getting deep into the playoffs will be aided by a strong end to the season, which could ensure that the Bengals gain a bye through the Wild Card round and home-field advantage up until the AFC Championship. All that must be done to ensure this outcome is to equal the New England Patriots‘ record the rest of the way, as the teams are currently level and Cincinnati previously beat them in 2013.
After watching the Bengals take a huge step forward in 2013 and pick up a statement win against the Colts on Sunday night, it will be impossible to bet against them going forward. There is now no doubting that they will be the AFC North champions, and finishing second place in the entirety of the AFC and a deep run in the playoffs looks to be a near certainty as well.