The 2011 NFL season will be defined by quarterback dominance, a top notch class of rookies and the revitalization of the New York-Boston rivalry. As the book closes on the season and the Giants bask in the glory of a Super Bowl championship, it is time to list the other successes, as well as the disappointments, of this past year. End of the season power rankings are being released at a rapid pace, most recently by CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist Pete Prisco. He has ranked the Cincinnati Bengals as the 10th best team.
The 10 spot is one of the highest rankings the Bengals have received in this young offseason, one spot higher than SB Nation's Power Rankings ranking of Cincinnati at No. 11. Sports Illustrated's Peter King only ranked his top 15 teams--a list which included the Arizona Cardinals, the San Diego Chargers and the 6-10 Miami Dolphins, but did not include the Cincinnati Bengals. Obviously, different criteria is used by each writer as they compile their respective lists, and it is unclear whether a greater importance is placed on previous season's performance or their potential moving forward. Peter King opted to remain ambiguous and not disclose the criteria for his highly questionable list, but in his one line analysis of Cincinnati, Prisco hinted that it is the promising future which earned the Bengals a top ten ranking. He said:
This is a young team on the rise. As the young players mature, especially Andy Dalton, they will be a Super contender.
This particular ranking of No. 10 is debatable, as it places Cincinnati in front of the also youthful Detroit Lions, but that is not to say Cincinnati's ranking is undeserved. A playoff berth, a rookie of the year candidate, four Pro Bowlers--the Bengals were 2011's biggest surprise and earned the right to be considered a top ten team in the NFL.