Time to see what’s in the crystal ball today!  Wait a minute… No, no it can’t be…
 
NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
This can’t be right!  It just can't be!  Let me try again!


Whew, that’s better!  Brett Favre just appears every now and then; it’s best to ignore him.  Here’s what the future holds for the Cincinnati Bengals!



THE BENGALS HAVE A TOP 3 DEFENSE

For the 2011 Season, the Bengals had the 7th ranked defense in the NFL, behind their AFC North rivals, the Steelers (1st overall) and the Ravens (3rd overall).  However, the Bengals' D is very young, with the average age of defensive starters last season at 27.4.  To compare, the average age of Ravens’ defenders was 28.5 and Steelers’ defenders was 30.4.

Look for the young Bengals' D, led by Geno Atkins, Rey Maualuga, and Thomas Howard to build off of a successful 2011 campaign.  Also, Maualuga will get a commercial deal with a shampoo company (watch out, Polamalu!).




CEDRIC BENSON HAS LESS THAN 800 YARDS RUSHING

In 2011, Benson had 1,067 rushing yards on 273 carries (3.9 YPC), making him the only running back in the NFL to finish the season with over 1,000 yards without having at least four yards per carry.

The Bengals did employ somewhat more of a running back by committee system than they had in recent years, with Bernard Scott earning 112 carries.  To compare, the season prior Benson carried the ball 321 times to Scott’s 61.  Expect the trend towards using more of a RBBC system to continue in 2012.




JEROME SIMPSON MAKES ANOTHER AMAZING PLAY

If I say “JEROME SIMPSON”, what’s the first thing you think of?  Odds are you think of Simpson’s amazing flip over Daryl Washington into the end zone.  Either that, or you think of Simpson pleading guilty to drug charges involving two pounds of marijuana.  It’s probably one of the two.  Well, I foresee that the Bengals will be thinking of the first thing when they re-sign Simpson despite a possible suspension from the league.

With the entire offseason (and possibly some quiet time in jail) to plan and practice his leaps and flips, Simpson impresses us all with a flip that’s equally as astounding and amazing as the one he made against the Cards!  Maybe this time he’ll even stick the landing.




THE BENGALS WIN THE AFC NORTH

In a close division with three good teams, the Bengals benefit from finishing 3rd in the AFC North in 2011 and, as a result, getting to play the Dolphins and Jaguars this season.  Meanwhile, the Ravens and Steelers get much tougher contests (Patriots & Texans for the Ravens; Jets & Titans for the Steelers).

The schedule makers (aka that big computer) were also kind to the Bengals in regards to what teams they’ll have to face on the road.  Take out the Steelers and Ravens, and the Bengals’ road opponents were a combined 37-59 in 2011.  They face tougher opponents, including the AFC West and NFC East Division Champions (Broncos and Giants), on their home turf.  All of this adds up to 11-5, just enough to win the North.





THE BENGALS WIN A PLAYOFF GAME! … BUT JUST ONE


The Bengals win their first playoff game since the 1990 NFL Season!  It’s been a long wait, Cincinnati, and, even though there’s no Super Bowl run this season, Bengals’ fans can take solace in the fact that this is a good, young team that’ll be competitive for seasons to come.






More amazing glimpses into the 2012 Season:
Jacksonville Jaguars
Arizona Cardinals
Green Bay Packers