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CBS Sports' Pete Prisco Predicts A Wildly Successful 2012 Season For The Cincinnati Bengals

________ of the __________ holds up the Lamar Hunt AFC Championship trophy after the _______ won against the __________during the AFC Championship Game. (fill in the blanks)
________ of the __________ holds up the Lamar Hunt AFC Championship trophy after the _______ won against the __________during the AFC Championship Game. (fill in the blanks)

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports has been one of a select few analysts who hold the Bengals in high regards heading into 2012. Usually, the talking heads babble about a disappointing 2012 after an over achieving 2011, a let-down, a losing record and everything else that has defined Cincinnati Bengal football for the past two decades. They'll grant that A.J. Green is a special talent, but will not bring themselves to credit Cincinnati in many other respects. The only two words associated with Andy Dalton will be "sophomore slump". Geno Atkins will remain criminally underrated and hardly a talking point at all. "Who were their draft picks again?", they'll ask. Then they'll move on and discuss the Saints, Cam Newton, and whatever else it is they talk about these days. These opinions are understandable, but still pessimistic.

Pete Prisco stands on the flip side of that coin. He is a Bengal optimist, maybe too much so. He writes that for the Bengals to succeed, Andy Dalton "can't have a sophomore slump". In his latest article, he reveals what side of this debate he stands on by predicting Cincinnati to have some serious success in 2012. And it goes far beyond just a division title.

Prisco predicts the entire season, from Week 1 to the Super Bowl. For the Cincinnati Bengals, his picks are as follows:

  • Week 1: L, Ravens 20 - Bengals 17
  • Week 2: W, Bengals 24 - Browns 17
  • Week 3: W, Bengals 17 - Redskins 16
  • Week 4: W, Bengals 24 - Jaguars 17
  • Week 5: W, Bengals 27 - Dolphins 10
  • Week 6: W, Bengals 21 - Browns 14
  • Week 7: W, Bengals 23 - Steelers 20
  • Week 8: BYE
  • Week 9: W, Bengals 24 - Broncos 23
  • Week 10: L, Giants 21 - Bengals 20
  • Week 11: L, Chiefs 26 - Bengals 17
  • Week 12: W, Bengals 31 - Raiders 14
  • Week 13: L, Chargers 23 - Bengals 20
  • Week 14: W, Bengals 17 - Cowboys 14
  • Week 15: L, Eagles 26 - Bengals 17
  • Week 16: L, Steelers 23 - Bengals 20
  • Week 17: W, Bengals 17 - Ravens 13
REGULAR SEASON FINISH: 10-6, AFC North Champions

  • WILD CARD PLAYOFF: W, Bengals 21 - Chargers 17
  • DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF: W, Bengals 20 - Broncos 17
  • AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: L, Patriots 28 - Bengals 14
He predicts the Bengals to make the AFC Championship game (!!), an unbelievable accomplishment for a young team and the organization as a whole. The repercussions of such an achievement would be huge. Dalton and Green would have tasted true success and would be hungry for even more. Filling Paul Brown Stadium would no longer be an issue. The team may finally rid itself of the incorrect, yet relentless "thug/criminal/bad boy" reputation. Success would be expected moving forward.

Prisco may be over optimistic, but in meaningless pre-season predictions, why shouldn't he be. This is a team to be excited about. For an improved team coming off a playoff berth and a 9-7 record, a 10-6 record in 2012 is not completely out of the question. Why couldn't the Bengals split against the Ravens and Steelers and sweep the Browns? Why couldn't they go 2-2 versus the NFC East? Why couldn't they find four more wins against the likes of Jacksonville, Miami, and the AFC West? If we see an improved team from what was on the field in 2011, then there is no reason at all.

What do you think? Will the Cincinnati Bengals come within one game of making the Super Bowl?