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Week 5 Bengals vs Seahawks: What We Learned

Five weeks into the 2015 season the Cincinnati Bengals have zero losses, none, zilch, nada. While September and October wins carry little weight for a fan base riddled with disappointment, you can't win in January if you don't get there.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Four teams in the NFL sit at 5-0 after five weeks and one is the Cincinnati Bengals. In fact, if the playoffs started today, the Bengals would be the top seed in the AFC. Chew on that for a moment while you read what else we learned in Week 5:

This Bengals team has a different feel to them than any Bengals team I can remember.

In 1988 when the Bengals went WHO-DEY Shuffling all the way to Miami, I was seven years old, so I don't remember the season - though unfortunately I do remember the Super Bowl. I do, however, remember the 2005 AFC North Championship team, and that was a really good team, but I never had the confidence in that team that I have in this team. The 2005 squad had a prolific offense and a great offensive line, but the defense was suspect (at best) and lived by the turnover. This 2014 version of the Bengals has as dynamic of an offense as the 2005 team, an offensive line that is nearly as good and a defense that is head and heels above the 2005 team. Most importantly, this team has an aura to them that feels different. Call it swagger, call it whatever you want. Maybe it is the experience, combined with four years of bitter disappointment, but this team seems to have that "it" factor to them which all championship teams must have. Their legacy will not be written until the regular season ends, but through five games, they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders and anyone that says anything different hasn't seen them play.

Despite the impressive fourth quarter comeback, the Bengals won't get the credit they deserve.

The score was extremely close, but the game shouldn't have been that close. Don't get me wrong, the Seahawks earned the big lead they built on the Bengals, but it was a lead built off Bengals blunders and missed tackling. The Bengals had a 72 yard touchdown taken back on a questionable holding call, they threw an interception in the endzone at the end of the first half which cost the Bengals three points and gave the Seahawks three and they had a fumble returned for a touchdown. Despite all those mistakes, the Bengals overcame a 17 point fourth quarter deficit to beat the two-time defending NFC Champions. Prepare yourself for the national media mitigating the Bengals win by the storylines of "that wouldn't have happened if Marshawn Lynch played", or "the Seahawks blew the game more so than the Bengals won it," etc. Despite how close the game was, if you watched the game and were honest with yourself, you saw that the Bengals were the best football team on the field on Sunday and it really wasn't close.

Andy Dalton dissected the "Legion of Boom".

Don't look now, but the league leader in yards is...your very own Andy Dalton. Dalton is 2nd in the NFL with a rating of 115.6 (behind only Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers), is tied for 3rd with 11 touchdowns, is 2nd with a yards per attempt average of 9.49 and with a QBR of 83.7, which trails only Ben Roethlisberger who hasn't played in two weeks. Also, to back up, yes, Andy Dalton has a better QBR than Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. Through the first four games, we kept hearing a bunch of "yeah buts" when it came to Dalton. "Yeah, but wait till he plays Seattle" and "if he can do it against Seattle, then I will take him seriously." Well, he "did it" against Seattle and he lit up the Legion of Boom. If Seattle was Andy Dalton's litmus test, with a 30/44, 3 touchdown (1 running) performance which included just 1 interception and a 95.9 rating (70.4 QBR), consider the test passed. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the highest rated quarterback in the fourth quarter in all of the NFL is Dalton.

The Andy Dalton Twitter trolls are still out there waiting to show their faces.

You knew they were still out there, hiding underneath their rocks (or their parent's basements) waiting for their opportunity to bash Dalton. These so called "Bengals fans" that seemingly would prefer to see Dalton fail than see the Bengals win. When Dalton made an ill-advised pass at the end of the first half - which was picked off in the endzone - those trolls came running back to the Twittersphere to use their troll thumbs to pound their proverbial chest via social media and exclaim their brilliance and denounce Dalton as the worst quarterback since David Klinger. For the next quarter, Dalton did little to quiet them. Then the fourth quarter started and Dalton lit up the most feared secondary in the NFL. With every completion and every touchdown, more and more of the trolls clamored back under their lonely rocks like cockroaches when a light comes on, where presumably they will stay... hopefully forever, but probably just until the next interception.

Geno Atkins is among the best defensive tackle in the NFL.

He may not have the name recognition or contract of other defensive tackles (Ndamukong Suh), but what he does have is four sacks in five games (four more than Suh), a lucrative contract that will be honored and the respect of his teammates and opponents. To me, the best defensive tackle conversation comes down to Atkins, Gerald McCoy (TB - 4.5 sacks) and Aaron Donald (Stl - 3.5 sacks) and doesn't even include Suh. Where Atkins gets the nod is the fact that his mere presence makes the others on his line look like Pro Bowlers (see next paragraph on Dunlap). Hell, even Domata Peko has 2 sacks. On Sunday, Atkins - yet again - spent most of his time behind the opponent's offensive line diverting plays before they even developed.

Carlos Dunlap needs to have Atkins on his Christmas card list.

Dunlap is a good player with Pro Bowl potential, but has never had a season of double digit sacks. In fact, his highest total was 9.5 as a rookie. In the four seasons since, he has accumulated 4.5, 6.0, 7.5 and 8.0 sacks respectively. Good totals, but not great. After five games with a healthy Atkins on his line, Dunlap has 5.0 sacks and is on pace for 16.0 sacks. Is that all because of Atkins? Probably not. But it sure as hell has a lot to do with it.

Mike Nugent regained some confidence with that overtime kick...but he still concerns me.

Don't get me wrong, I had very little confidence that Nugent would nail the rushed kick for the tie, nor did I have any faith he would make the overtime kick for the win. But, he did, and I couldn't have been happier for me of for Nugent. The thing is, I doubt I was alone - and if I were to guess, some of his teammates were thinking the same - and Nugent himself may have been questioning his ability. So, the kicks were huge. That being said, the game winner was banked home, meaning he was about a half inch away from missing another big kick. I want to see the Nugent I remember from Ohio State, but at this point, that Nugent may be gone and it would behoove the Bengals to at least entertain the thought of another kicker. Granted, there probably is not an unemployed reliable kicker out there just waiting for a phone call like Josh Brown was a few years back, but maybe.

The defense needs to stop "bending" because eventually they will break.

This is a talented defense, but the last two weeks, they have looked vulnerable and sloppy. The "bend but not break" moniker has fit this defense well the last few weeks, and many teams have won a championship with a defense that bends but doesn't break (2012 Ravens?), but, you run a huge risk because will break. The Bengals have yet to play a team with an offense that can make them pay, but a team like the Steelers (with Ben Roethlisberger) or Packers, etc. can and will make them pay. Particularly, the linebacker position needs to be addressed, because if Vontaze Burfict can't come back - or can't come back as the Burfict we know - then this defense could be in trouble.

For all the talk and excitement surrounding Dre Kirkpatrick during training camp, he has yet to impress me.

We kept hearing all offseason how great Kirkpatrick was playing and how great he looked, but through five games, count me as unimpressed. Kirkpatrick was burned for the touchdown to Jermain Kearse - he wasn't releasing him to Emmanuel Lamur - and he was burned later by Tyler Lockett, but fortunately for Kirkpatrick and the Bengals, Lockett did a poor job of getting his feet down. Kirkpatrick has the talent and mindset to be a good corner, but thus far, he is averaging a mistake or two per game - and for a corner, that is dangerous.

Jeremy Hill is concerning me.

By the end of the season, I believed Hill may be in the discussion for the best backs in the league, with LeVeon Bell, but right now, he is averaging just 3.03 yards per carry, has two fumbles and is clearly the second best running back on his own team, let alone in all of the NFL. His five touchdowns are encouraging, but his 176 yards are not. Think about this for a moment, Hill has 176 yards on the season - in his last nine games in 2014, Hill had four games of 145 yards one game. His high in 2015? 63 yards against Oakland in Week 1. It also can't be blamed on the offensive line because Giovani Bernard is churning out 5.5 yards per carry thus far in 2015.

The holding call on Andrew Whitworth was questionable, but nearly cost the Bengals the game.

It ended up not mattering, but normally, when a 72-yard touchdown is called back, it costs a team. While I would argue Whitworth did not hold, the fact of the matter is that he got his hands outside the defender's shoulders, and when you do that, you run the risk of getting a hold called. The Bengals would have had all the momentum had that play stood, instead, momentum shifted in the other direction.

Admit it, you didn't think this team was going to come back.

If you have been a Bengals fan for longer than a day, I can assure you that at some point you mentioned to yourself (or out loud) that these are the "same old Bengals." And then something happened, they proved you wrong...and you weren't sure how to react. If you are like me, you didn't really care, because when the final whistle blew, the Bengals had more points on the board than the Seahawks, and in the words of Charlie Sheen, that is winning.

The Bengals are 5-0 for the first time since their Super Bowl season of 1988.

Yep, we are ending on a good note - a note that needs no explanation.