With all the talk about quarterback Andy Dalton, it's easy to forget that football is primarily a team sport. Twenty-two men take the field at any given time, and while it's true that one weak link can invite failure, by and large, games are won or lost by the efforts of an entire group of players.
So while discussions about the long-term viability of a certain third-year pro do have their place, that doesn't mean we should overlook the importance of the other twenty-one players around him.
Which brings us to the point of this article. According to a statistical breakdown by ESPN's Mike Sando, the Bengals actually sport on of the youngest starting lineups in the entire NFL, coming in as the 26th oldest team out of 32. Now, usually this would indicate that a team is going through some sort of rebuilding phase. After all, the youngest three teams--the Browns, Rams, and Chiefs--have all undergone some form of recent organizational change, and failing rosters generally tend to dump veteran contracts in favor of blowing things up and starting over with young rookies.
In the Bengals' case, however, the team has actually made the playoffs in back-to-back years and their youth is reason for optimism rather than concern. The fact that the Bengals' starting lineups are statistically amongst the youngest in the league means that the team is hopefully poised for a long stretch of uninterrupted success. On most other playoff teams, the best players are usually veterans either at or past the prime of their careers. In Cincinnati, the best players are still relatively young with the majority of their careers ahead of them.
Only the Seahawks and Packers came in lower than the Bengals, making Cincinnati the youngest AFC team to make the playoffs last season. Regardless of how you feel about Dalton, that has to make you smile.