When I got home from work today I turned the TV, switching back and forth between ESPN and the NFL channel, hoping to hear something about the Bengals. I even listened to a little Mad Dog sports radio on Sirius XM while taking a trip to the gas station to pick up some beer. As usual, I was disappointed. No mention of the Bengals. Sitting at 7 and 4 with a 3 game lead atop the once dominant, but now deceptively deflated AFC North, the Bengals haven’t done enough to gain national attention. The Bengals are still being outshined by Denver, Seattle, Kansas City, New Orleans, and now even Carolina. We are even beginning to talk about the Steeler’s, and how they could emerge as a threat the North title. I guess it is somewhat warranted, due to the inconsistencies on offense, and the relentless questions around Andy Dalton’s play. In the past, I would say I don’t mind, but this year I do. This team is good, and they can compete with any other team and win big. We’ve seen the loss of Atkins and Hall, inconsistent play from our offense, but the Bengals have a fire that no other team has right now, just something that I can’t explain. Look at how crazy the first 11 games have been. Exhausting, frustrating, thrilling, and heart breaking, but magical. Vontaze Burfict is emerging as not only an outstanding young linebacker, but even more surprising as the vocal leader of the defense. Our make shift secondary and linebackers are playing solid, next man up, defense under the great Mike Zimmer. Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson are playing in beast mode every week. On the other side of the team we have a billion talented weapons. With Green, Bernard, Jones, Sanu, Hawkins is back, Gresham, Eifert, the list goes on forever, this team has the more talent than Denver. Andy Dalton is scary sometimes, but he’s also great sometimes too. And despite what we sometimes say and feel, the truth is we have good coaches all around. These players respond to Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer. And go ahead and ask any Raven’s fan, they would love to have Jay Gruden on their side and not ours. To add to that, Michael Johnson told us (Bengals fans) to stop being Debbie downers. I will admit, in the moment I was screaming at the TV, wishing we’d give Josh Johnson a shot after the first quarter against Cleveland, but in retrospect, I have to agree with Johnson’s statement. But another aspect of his statement is that it shows how much Johnson cares about his teammates and what they are trying to accomplish. He wants to win, and he wants us (the fans) to be crazy as hell when the Bengals play at home. The team culture has already changed, but us fans may still not be there yet. Even though the Bengals may not always play solid in all three phases in every game, and we may not be as pretty as Denver, or New Orleans, we have an elite team this year. And watching the Bengals play this year, the games have been more exciting to watch than any other team in football. Any given Sunday things can happen, but I like the Bengals chance’s and am grateful of where this team is.