Will the Cincinnati Bengals be AFC North Champs 2010?

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The Cincinnati Bengals had a good season in 2009, finishing 10-6, champions of the AFC North. However, they were immediately put out of the playoffs in the first round by the New York Jets, in front of the home crowd. The Bengals look to get that bad taste out of their mouth, and are attacking 2010 with a vengeance.

Strength in-“D”eed. The strength of this team is without a doubt on the defensive side of the ball. Statistically, this unit was in the top seven in the league in points allowed, yards allow, passing yards allowed, and rushing yards allowed. The addition of Adam “don’t call me PacMan” Jones will make this even stronger. You know that he will be playing with a chip on his shoulder, so he will improve the Bengals secondary (as if they needed it).

Improving on offense: Even though they posted a 10-6 record, their offense was among the bottom half in the league in 2009. They have a list of running backs a mile long, led by Cedric Benson, who had 1251 yards rushing. Running back Larry Johnson is gone, but he was getting older anyway, and seemed to have lost a step. If they have a long list of running backs, the list of wide receivers is the length of War and Peace. Seriously, they have 11 receivers on the roster, led by larger-than-life Chad Ochocinco. He put his money where his mouth was in 2009, with over 1000 yards in receiving yardage.

Draft talk: The Bengals attempted to shore up the offense by two big offensive picks in the first three rounds of the draft. They picked up Jermaine Gresham, a tight end from Oklahoma. He is a significant threat going across the middle of the field, and he will be a good compliment to Ochocinco and Antonio Bryant. They selected Jordan Shipley from Texas to join the wide receiver group. He is a playmaker, runs solid routes, and has good hands (think Wes Welker).

Character issues: Marvin Lewis needs to have an endorsement deal with Excedrin, considering all the character issues on this team. Chad Ochocinco is a loose cannon, and provides frequent distractions for the team. The Bengals brain trust drafted another problem child in Carlos Dunlap from Florida. Prior to the SEC championship in 2009, he was arrested for DUI. Although he is an amazing athlete, he lacks effort and character issues could be a concern. Throw PacMan Jones and LB Ray Maualuga (who had an accident/DUI/rehab stint) into the mix, and you have the possibility of weekly headlines.

In spite of the potential landmines, Cincinnati fans should expect an improvement on the 10-6 record. The Bengals have likely learned that they need to “bring it” in the playoff games; they definitely will make it past the first round in 2010.

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