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Is this most successful period in Bengals franchise history? Elo thinks so

Are we in the midst of the greatest period in Bengals franchise history?

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

There's no question the Bengals are in the midst of one of the best periods in franchise history.

But is it the best period in franchise history? FiveThirtyEight's Elo project, a ratings system used to measure the level of success NFL teams have had from their beginning to present day (go here for a detailed explanation) shows the Bengals are currently experiencing prolonged success that's more extreme than any other period during team history.

Elo is a fascinating project that can give you a good idea of various franchise's all-time highs in their long history, as well as their painfully-sad lows.

For the Bengals, you don't have to go far back to remember how bad the lowest of lows were during the 1990s. That was a painful era for any Bengals fan, but the gloomy days appear to be long behind us for now. The lowest point for the Bengals as calculated by Elo came in 1999 when the Bengals lost 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens to fall to 1-10 that season.

Since Marvin Lewis became head coach in 2003, Cincinnati has slowly climbed out of the cellar-dwelling team of the 90s that fans suffered through for far too long. Cincinnati opened the 2005 season with an 11-3 start, and a win over the Detroit Lions in Week 15 clinched the Bengals' first playoff berth in over a decade. That led to a 1,643 Elo rating, which is still one of the highest points in franchise history.

Even with some early success and a playoff berth in 2005, respect was hard to come by for the Bengals as people were skeptical if this was mere blip on the radar, or if the good times were here to stay.

Unfortunately, a few bumps in the road made it look as though the 90s were back in full force. During the 2008 season, the Bengals suffered a 35-3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14 and fell to 1-11-1 that season, which led to a 1,349 Elo rating, the lowest point of the Lewis era.

But three straight wins to end that season and a subsequent 10-6 record in 2009 carried the Bengals back out of the cellar and into the playoffs. It wouldn't last long though as Cincinnati opened the 2010 season with a 2-11 record. The low point of that season came in a 23-7 Week 14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and a 1,374 Elo.

That would turn out to be the lowest point the Bengals have endured for quite some time as the franchise has since ripped off five straight winning seasons and subsequent playoff berths. It also led to the franchise reaching the highest point it's ever reached in terms of Elo, which came in Week 9 of the 2015 season thanks to a 31-10 win over the Cleveland Browns in primetime and achieving an 8-0 record.

Here is a chart of the Bengals history, as graded by Elo:

That gave the Bengals a franchise-best 8-0 start and a 1,672 Elo, which is the highest mark Cincinnati has ever reached. Even during the two Super Bowl berths during the 80s, the Bengals never reached that level.

It may come as no coincidence that around this time, FiveThirtyEight called this Bengals team the best in franchise history. While the way the season ended was painful, there's no question it was a great one and helped show just how far this franchise has come.

Thanks to five straight winning seasons and playoff berths, this has truly been a great time to be a Bengals fan, but is it the best in your mind?