Bengals fans have always regarded power rankings with skepticism. Perhaps it's because the Bengals usually never get respect from the media. The Bungles. Prison stripes. We've all heard the jokes. Remember when the Bengals were projected to go 0-16 before the 2011 season? Hah. Andy Dalton and the young Bengals showed up those clowns with a 9-7 record and a postseason berth.
Now, before the 2013 season, the Bengals are regarded as contenders. To some, they are even the favorites. Ask Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com's Senior NFL Columnist, who has the Bengals winning this year's Super Bowl 31-30 over the Atlanta Falcons, as we wrote about earlier this week.
The Falcons are regarded as one of the best teams in the NFL. Yet, the Bengals exposed the Falcons' lack of depth in a good old fashioned butt-whoopin' last Thursday. After the game, ESPN NFL Analyst Mark Schlereth called the Bengals "the most talented roster in the National football league".
To top things off, NFL.com's latest Power Rankings have the Bengals jumping three spots to No. 6, leaping the Baltimore Ravens, the New England Patriots, and the Green Bay Packers since their most recent ranking in June. That's pretty good company.
Maybe the extra exposure from the Bengals appearing on Hard Knocks is starting to turn heads around the league. The roster is deep. On paper it looks good. Most importantly, the Bengals are still healthy. AJ Green returned to practice this week and looked to be 100 percent - he was seen catching deep over the shoulder passes in tight coverage with ease.
We already know that the Bengals have one of the best defenses in the league (thank God that Mike Zimmer stayed another year), and special teams always ranks near the top of the league as well. The offense needs to catch up but that's why the Bengals took both the first tight end and the first running back in the draft. All Andy Dalton needs to do this year is make more than twenty good throws per game, and the wins will start pouring in.
The odds for the Bengals to win the Super Bowl are still low (33-1 or worse on most websites), but why should oddsmakers believe in the Bengals? The team still hasn't won a playoff game in the past two decades.
The truth is that we know this team better than most. We know how talented and deep this roster is. It's those that have been following the team that really know what's going on here.
At the end of the day, if Andy Dalton finally takes advantage with the weapons that he has on offense, the Bengals will take this league over.