There are a lot of great stories heading into this final Sunday of football of the regular season.
One of the very best stories — the 2011 Bengals — has been a little lost in the shuffle.
A lot of power rankings had the Bengals dead last at No. 32 before the year. In Vegas, the over/under of their win total was 5.5.
The talk in the preseason was about who wasn’t there: Carson Palmer, Johnathan Joseph, and Chad Ochocinco. Rookie Andy Dalton was expected to be the most overmatched starting quarterback in the league.
16 weeks later, the Bengals just need one more win (against the Ravens) to make the playoffs.
“Let it all hang out. I can’t say we’re treating it like any other week. This is the chance of a lifetime,” safety Chris Crocker told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “What better reason to play the last week of season? Let it all hang loose. It’s going to be a packed house. They’re going for a first-round bye. They’re going to give us their best.”
Dalton has been a revelation, wise beyond his years. A.J. Green can be one of the best five receivers in football sooner than later. Still, the reason for the Bengals’ success is one we re-learn every year. When you are looking for a surprise team, look to the line play.
Cincinnati’s veteran offensive line has a great mix of continuity and talent. Their defensive line is young, aggressive, and very deep.
If they can just win one more game, this Bengals story will get a whole lot better.