By Will Button
The Cincinnati Bengals, coming off a 11-5 season in 2013-2014, will be looking to repeat as champs in the AFC North this year. bet365 currently has them at 25/1 to win the Superbowl this year. Head coach Marvin Lewis did a fantastic job at rallying his team to the playoffs, only to fall short to the San Diego Chargers in a disappointing 27-10 loss in the wild card game. Many believe that the recent success of the Cincinnati Bengals is due to players like quarterback Andy Dalton, who threw for 33 touchdowns and had 4293 passing yards, WR A.J. Green who brought in 98 catches for 1426 yards and RB Giovani Bernard who totaled 1,209 all purpose yards from scrimmage with 8 touchdowns in his rookie season. Regardless of whether or not you look to the players or the franchise itself, it’s hard to ignore the facts when it comes to the Bengals. In the last four years, they have consistently improved their season record. It’s hard to imagine the current Bengals going 4-12 like they did in 2010. To keep the Bengals alive, they need changes on both sides of the ball, which is why the off-season acquisitions and roster changes are going to make a huge impact in the 2014-2015 season for Cincinnati.
The offensive side of the Bengals has been strong in recent years, and with Andy Dalton looking healthy and strong, many are looking forward to another great performance this season. Unfortunately a few changes in the offensive scheme will have the Bengals looking to adapt to the off-season changes. While many are confident in Dalton’s abilities on the field, a few changes have given him some backup help if needed. Newcomer quarterback Jason Campbell will most likely not see much playing time due to Dalton’s success, especially seeing as Campbell only played 9 games last season with Cleveland and only had 317 attempted passes all year. Though if Dalton happens to get injured during the season, Campbell will surely be tested. Another new player to the team is rookie running back Jeremy Hill. His two years with Louisiana State show promising results, as Hill had 1401 total yards on 203 touches. While the NFL is a much different game, Hill will be looking to carry over his talent to the Bengals as a viable backup and change of pace to starter Giovani Bernard. The Bengals did lose wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, center Kyle Cook and offensive tackle Anthony Collins.
Defensively, the Bengals have done quite well in the past few seasons, and they’ll be looking to their new additions to help keep their defense strong. Defensive end Michael Johnson has departed from the Cincinnati Bengals, who’s 4 sacks and one interception were a bit disappointing in the 2013-2014 season. One new addition to the defensive side looking to give Cincinnati a boost is rookie cornerback Darqueze Dennard, who’s coming off a fantastic season with Michigan State. Another player looking to make his name known in Cincinnati is defensive back Danieal Manning. While Manning hasn’t seen great numbers with the Bears and Texans in the past, the Bengals will surely be testing him in the 2014-2015 season.
The AFC North in the 2013-2014 season saw the Bengals easily on top, as the other three teams in their division saw poor results regarding their records. This season should be no exception. While teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers may have a lot of newcomers to look forward to, Cincinnati has consistently shown improvement over the past few seasons. Given all the changes in the off-season, fans of the Bengals have something to look forward to in the 2014-2015 season.