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Bengals Bytes (2/9): On the right track

The Bengals have hope for next season after a similar team just won the Super Bowl. ESPN makes a bold prediction involving the Bengals. Russell Wilson writes an open letter to Peyton Manning.

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Cincinnati Bengals: Super Bowl potential in 2016
No one enjoyed watching the BengalsSuper Bowl hopes, or even hopes of a playoff win, crumble in a matter of seconds–well, except for Steeler fans, but the Cincinnati Bengals look to have as bright a future as they’ve ever had. It’s surprising to think that less than a year ago, fans were vying for Andy Dalton to be benched in favor of A.J. McCarron. For the first time since 2009, the Cincinnati Bengals don’t have a question mark behind center. In fact, it’s evident that they’ve found their franchise quarterback. That alone should give Bengals fans enough hope that their team will have a bright future.

A few takes after Super Bowl ends a Mile High
A few takes after Peyton Manning Marshal Dillon-ed the Panthers in Sunday night’s Super Bowl and rode off into a Carolina sunset. How good are the Bengals tackles, specifically Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth? We spent the last two weeks watching Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware personally win the two biggest games of the year by eviscerating Tom Brady and Cam Newton in getting an offensive line coach fired and an NFL MVP stifled.

Bengals sign veteran CB Chykie Brown
The Bengals have signed veteran cornerback Chykie Brown. Brown was out of the NFL last season but has 54 games of experience with the Ravens and Giants from 2011-14. He played in every game when the Ravens won the Super Bowl in the 2012 season.

Broncos Super Bowl win shows Bengals how close they are and perhaps a blueprint
The Denver Broncos winning the Super Bowl on Sunday is a painful reminder of just how close the Bengals were to making a similar run this season (the 20-17 overtime loss in Denver cost them a first-round bye), but was perhaps a blueprint for how they can pull it off in 2016.

Bengals were right about scoring defense -- it mattered in Super Bowl
Paul Guenther began the 2015 season insisting that his players focus on only one statistic: scoring defense. After all, it's what the scoreboard says that matters the most, right? Sure, other stats can help dictate how many scoring chances an offense has, but the most basic goal of defense is to keep the offense out of the end zone.

An early look at your Super Bowl LI champion ... Cincinnati Bengals?
You know what they always say; the sixth straight time is always the charm. Or so ESPN's Dan Graziano believes. As part of his 10 (very early) predictions for the 2016 season that were posted Monday morning, Graziano has looked into his crystal ball and seen the future. That future has the Cincinnati Bengals -- owners of five straight postseason one-and-dones -- winning (yes, winning) Super Bowl LI.

Random Bytes

2 Broncos fans arrived late to $14K Super Bowl seats, didn't care because 'we're rich'
A pair of $14,000 Super Bowl tickets was pocket change for two Denver Broncos fans, who showed up midway through the first quarter. "We could give a f—," Dr. Juergen Pichler Levine, whose private jet couldn’t land for an hour and a half, told The San Francisco Chronicle. "We are rich."

If This Is It | Russell Wilson's letter to Peyton Manning
From all the wins, to the few tough losses. From the 71,000 yards, to all the touchdowns, to the few interceptions. From all the meetings, to all the hard practices, to all the film, to all the blood, sweat and tears. From all the Pro Bowls, to the handful of MVPs, to the two Lombardi trophies. From all the teammates, to all the opponents, to all the fans. From the blue and white, to the blue and orange … Sheriff, If this is it, there’s one moment I won’t forget.

5 Contenders for Super Bowl 51
Which two teams will face off in Houston next February? Pro Football Focus analyst Mike Renner identifies the five biggest contenders for Super Bowl LI.

Nobody Much Likes Losing
The sullen, grumpy, sore-loser act Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton brought to his postgame press conference last night probably does not identify him as the very coolest and most chill dude in the world. Probably the very coolest and most chill dude in the world would be, what, ideally? Stoked to have played in the Super Bowl, I bet, and in good humor about having lost it.

Monday Morning MD: Injuries not an excuse
Everyone wants the game decided between the white lines. No one wants the "what ifs" of an injured key player or a referee’s blown call. Although Super Bowl 50 was not a mistake free game, fans got what they wanted. The better team (or should I say the better defense) won and no one is making excuses.

Aqib Talib: Levi's Stadium turf 'was terrible' for Super Bowl
The Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers to win the Super Bowl, and a number of players were not happy with the Levi's Stadium field. "The footing on the field was terrible," Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib said. "San Fran has to play eight games on that field so they better do something to get it fixed. It was terrible."

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos beat Panthers in Super Bowl 50 | The MMQB with Peter King
In the twilight of his career, Peyton Manning wasn’t the man in Denver’s Super Bowl 50 win, but he didn’t need to be. The defense dismantled the Panthers, which left the Broncos QB ‘at peace’ as he weighs retirement. Plus an inside look at the Hall of Fame vote and more from Santa Clara.

Sources: Fox Sports Bosses Wanted Colleen Dominguez To Get Erin Andrews Makeover, Facelift
This past December, Colleen Dominguez filed an age and gender discrimination lawsuit against Fox Sports 1. In the complaint, Dominguez, who came to the network in 2014 as a sideline and features reporter after a long run at ESPN, alleged that all the choice assignments were given to younger reporters, most notably Erin Andrews. (The suit listed Dominguez’s age as 54; Andrews is 37.) With that lawsuit pending and enhancing the aura of doom already permeating all Fox offices, now comes word that Dominguez’s producer, Jacquelyn Bower, was fired for reasons that remain in dispute.

The Secret Meaning Behind Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Beyoncé's Halftime Performance
Like so much of the best political critique, Coldplay and Beyoncé's nods were subtle but amounted to one of the most explicitly political halftime performances in recent memory. Not everyone seemed to appreciate the performance. Immediately following the halftime show, Donald Trump tweeted his disappointment in the Super Bowl by calling it "boring." Twitter users who read the performance's inclusive nods for what they were claimed to understand what he was actually trying to say.

Reviewing CBS’s broadcast of Super Bowl 50
This has not been a good year for CBS’s NFL coverage if you judge a sports network on critical reception of its top NFL team, especially via social media. The network’s top analyst (Phil Simms) and rules analyst (Mike Carey) have endured the kind of social media criticism usually reserved for Chris Berman calling an NFL game.