I know that I get tired of hearing players and coaches like Rex Ryan guarantee Super Bowls. But I absolutely love reading that the Super Bowl is on the Bengals mind. Paul Dehner Jr, from CBSSports.com, writes that the Bengals are not shying away from the talk of a potential Super Bowl. Players at training camp have been wearing shirts that say "DNO". This stands for, "Destination: New Orleans, where the big game will be played this season. Dehner writes that most optimism around the team is usually filtered with some caution. This year the team is embracing the Super Bowl talk. Leon Hall understands that they are expected to do more than just make the playoffs this season:
"There's definitely more of that playoff talk and Super Bowl is definitely a little more obvious than it has been other years," said CB Leon Hall, entering his sixth season with the Bengals. "For instance, when we went to the playoffs in '09, we were just talking about doing our job basically. We knew we could have a good team and felt good where we were at, but it definitely was a little different. I think it speaks to a lot of the young talent we have here this year and the season we had last year."
The Bengals have struggled to meet expectations in previous years. Head coach Marvin Lewis thinks that they have solved that problem:
"The biggest thing that we have done differently now is change people," Lewis said. "We've changed a lot of people. That is apparent."
Bengals center Kyle Cook understands that what the Bengals did last season has nothing to do with what they will do this season:
"You can't look at what you did in the past," said Kyle Cook, a starter in Cincinnati since 2009. "Yes, we made the playoffs last year. Yes, we made a good run. But could we have been better? Yes. Go back to my tenure here, go back to years we've been good, the following year has not been so good. The year we had Hard Knocks, my first year starting, we were good running, won a division, 6-0 team, next year we came out we weren't so great. What you did the year before has nothing to do with your record. Nobody carries over no matter what you did."
The Bengals need to take advantage of an easier schedule to open up the season, if they are going to meet fans expectations. Anything less than a playoff victory will be considered a failure in the eyes of many.