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Bengals sport one of NFL's elite offensive triplets

The Bengals offense took a major step forward in 2015 thanks in large part to the emergence of both Tyler Eifert and Andy Dalton, while A.J. Green just kept playing like the elite wide receiver he is.

Jason Miller/Getty Images

Defense has been the Bengals' calling card for much of the past seven years.

Cincinnati has had six playoff appearances since 2009, most of which were possible due to the strength of a top-10 defensive unit. However, the tide appears to be turning as the offense passed the defense in terms of production last season.

Well, at least when the offense was healthy, something they weren't for the final month of the year as they finished 15th in total offense. That was after Andy Dalton and Tyler Eifert missed much of the final four games, and with them healthy, the Bengals were a top-five offense.

The good news is Dalton is now fully healthy, which alone makes this offense very good. Toss in a healthy Eifert (which he currently is not) and star wide receiver A.J. Green, then it's a force to be reckoned with.

That's why ESPN's Bill Barnwell had the Bengals ranked very highly in his breakdown of the NFL's best offensive triplets.

7. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Andy Dalton, WR A.J. Green, TE Tyler Eifert

The Bengals would be higher if it weren't for the fact that Eifert underwent ankle surgery to address a problem that had bothered him since the Pro Bowl. He might miss the season opener and struggle to get back up to speed as the season goes along. It's also fair to wonder if Dalton's career year in 2015 was a leap he'll maintain from here on, or if it was an outlier buoyed by an offensive coordinator (Hue Jackson) who left for Cleveland.

Adding to how good those three are together, since Week 6 of 2013 in games which those Dalton, Green and Eifert have started and played into the third quarter (not counting the playoffs), the offense is averaging 27.7 points per game, which essentially is four touchdowns per contest.

There's no question that it's Green who's been the MVP of the offense since coming to Cincinnati in 2011. After five seasons, Green ranks No. 6 in catches (415), No. 5 in yards (6,171) and is No. 4 in touchdowns (45) in franchise history. Every other Cincinnati receiver ahead of him on the list spent at least eight seasons with the team to rack up their records.

This past season, Green racked up 86 catches for 1,297 yards (15.1 avg) and 10 scores, marking the fifth straight season in which Green topped the 1,000-yard mark.

But if we're just talking about 2015, it was obvious Dalton was this unit's MVP, whether you look at how great he was for 14 weeks, or how bad the Bengals were without him the rest of the way. Dalton completed 255 of his 386 passes for 3,250 yards and 25 scores vs just seven interceptions, and pushed the Bengals to a 10-2 start before going down with his broken thumb.

As for Eifert, 2015 was also a breakout year for the Pro Bowl tight end. He finished with 52 receptions for 615 yards and 13 touchdown catches, a franchise record by a tight end. He's out right now while recovering from ankle surgery, so hopefully he's back soon when the regular season begins to ensure this offensive triplet keeps lighting up NFL defenses.