USA TODAY Sports
With their 2012 playoff appearance, the Cincinnati Bengals did more than break a 30-year franchise curse. The appearance puts them in the same breath as the NFL's elite squads.
When the disaster that was the Bengals' 2010 season and its subsequent offseason struck, it appeared that the franchise was headed for another dark age, similar to that of the 1990s. Fortunately for Bengals fans, Owner Mike Brown (yes, him) and head coach Marvin Lewis had a vision on a quick rebuild of the roster. Since that rebuild in the winter and spring of 2011, the Bengals have made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in 30 years.
If you rewind back to the 2009 season, the Bengals have then made the playoffs three times in the last four seasons. Granted, that 2009 squad was a completely different one than the one you see today, but it still a surprisingly solid season in it's own right and is part of this streak. The reign of success in that timeframe puts the Bengals amongst the NFL's elite teams.
Who do the Cincinnati Bengals join with those three recent playoff appearances? The New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts, and Green Bay Packers (a tip of the hat to our own Jason Garrison for doing a little research on this). Two of these teams have won a Super Bowl (Saints and Packers), and two others appeared in the big dance during that window (Colts and Patriots). Unfortunately, only the Falcons share the dubious distinction of not winning a playoff game in that time along with the Bengals.
So, while the expectations have been raised (namely winning a postseason game), it has to bring a smile to the face of a Bengals fan to be mentioned in this company. Normally, if an NFL team had that kind of a streak of playoff appearances coupled with some postseason success, the word "dynasty" would start to be tossed around. We haven't heard that noun in these parts for quite some time.
Perhaps Bengals fans will be able to start to beat their chests a bit more and claim that the Bengals are indeed a dynasty if they make some noise this year. It starts on Saturday versus the Texans.