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National media seeing Bengals with favorable clarity

Experts, analysts and reporters are taking notice of the Cincinnati Bengals, finding themselves believing this squad is different from previous squads.

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Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

If you're hoping the world continues viewing Cincinnati as unrivaled underdogs without a hell's chance to win, then let me assure you... those days are over. For years, there's been a stigma that if experts pick the Bengals' opponent, the Bengals have a greater chance to win -- it's the whole, Cincinnati doesn't know how to react to national coverage narrative. Many had picked the Bengals to beat Seattle this weekend, and look... with a little luck, a Seattle collapse and the Earth's rotation, it happened.

"In the Northern Hemisphere, Earth's Coriolis force deflects airborne north-south projectiles to the right (at) about 1/2 inches per 50 yards," Tweeted the awesome Neil deGrasse Tyson. "The Bengals stadium isn't oriented exactly north-sound and the field goal was 42 yards, yielding a 1/3 inch deflection, not 1/2." If you'd like to talk more science, deGrass hosts a YouTube channel called Star Talk. It's cool.

Despite all firmly held beliefs, the world is paying attention. Heading into Sunday's game against the Seahawks, Cincinnati was heavily featured during pregame shows and was the affection of many experts making weekly NFL picks.

Let's present this in table view:

ESPN.COM 13 11

Of the 39 experts listed above, 30 picked Cincinnati. According to the website, 75 percent of the 136 experts they monitor picked the Bengals over the Seahawks.

The narrative, as mentioned before, is that when the world pays attention to the Bengals -- either through massive pregame coverage (interviews, analysis) or via a national game -- Cincinnati folds. Taking on Seattle, who has been a Super Bowl participant over the last two years (including a win in 2013), the Bengals reverted a 17-point deficit midway through the third quarter into an overtime win.

Lindsay Jones with the USA Today writes:

In addition to winning the game, Cincinnati added a greater impression on how they won. Against the vaunted Seattle defense, which boasted the deepest pass rush and best secondary the Bengals had faced all season, Dalton led four scoring drives in the fourth quarter and overtime to erase a 24-7 deficit. He threw a pair of touchdowns, both to tight end Tyler Eifert, ran for a 5-yard score, and finished the game with 331 passing yards, his third consecutive game over 300.

But the Bengals' hot start is not just about Dalton's precision passing, it's about a whole new swagger from the much maligned quarterback. He's fearless and aggressive, and for the first time since the Bengals drafted him in 2011, Dalton has complete ownership of the offense. It starts on Wednesdays, when it is Dalton — and not offensive coordinator Hue Jackson — running the meetings with wide receivers and tight ends. Dalton brings extra tactical information directly from the film room to the classroom to the huddle.

Peter King with Sports Illustrated writes:

The chemistry now is so good in Cincinnati. Dalton (mostly) is kept clean to make the right decisions. His coordinator knows what the quarterback does well, and with the rare exception of the Burkhead play, understands defensive concepts of teams he sees as seldom as Seattle well enough to know when he can push the envelope. And Dalton just makes the right decisions and the crisp throws—with the confidence of his team. Cincinnati's 27-24 win in overtime was a tribute to talented people who have worked together long enough to know what works and what doesn't.

The Washington Post:

Sunday afternoon, the Cincinnati Bengals faced the two-time defending NFC champions and the weight of unwanted perception. Their recent history is checkered with letdowns in games against teams like the Seattle Seahawks, particularly in the case of maligned quarterback Andy Dalton. It has marked them as a team unworthy of trust, just good enough to play in crucial games but never stout enough to win them. The Bengals had grown weary of, and angry at, the idea.

It may take until January for the Bengals to utterly shred their reputation, but in a stirring 27-24 overtime victory Sunday, they at least pierced it. Cincinnati trailed by 17 points early in the fourth quarter, and Dalton led the Bengals on three consecutive scoring drives against Seattle's vaunted defense to force overtime. The Bengals' defense engulfed Russell Wilson, and Dalton led a final scoring drive, culminating with Mike Nugent's walk-off doink off the right upright and through the goalposts.

Indeed the days of Cincinnati being the underdog that's expected to win out of nowhere, are over. Experts and analysts are feeling more comfortable picking the Bengals, especially against a team that's qualified for the Super Bowl in back-to-back seasons. And now people are seeing the "new" Bengals, where there's swagger and confidence, where Andy Dalton has been upgraded to Dalton 2.0.

It's a good time to be a Bengals fan.