Originally written on Three-Way Chili  |  Last updated 11/29/12
Hey, it's one of those times I'm thrilled to be wrong.I thought the Bengals were among the "walking dead" of NFL teams this year when they had a 3-5 record. But suddenly they've won three straight -- all in blowout fashion -- and are tied with the Steelers at 6-5 and for the final playoff spot in the AFC (the Steelers currently own the tiebreaker due to their win over the Bengals; the teams will play again this season in Pittsburgh). Andy Dalton and AJ Green are putting up incredible numbers ... Jermaine Gresham too. The offensive line has turned out to be solid, despite losing two starters in center Kyle Cook and left guard Travelle Wharton before the season even started. Last year's fourth-round pick, Clint Boling, has been good as Wharton's replacement. And free-agent signing Jeff Faine as at least held the fort down at the ever-important center position. Andrew Whitworth is one of the best left tackles in the AFC, first-round pick Kevin Zeitler will be on every 2012 All-Rookie Team and right tackle Andre Smith is living up to his potential.The emergence of Mohamad Sanu at wide receiver is also exciting for any Bengal fan.Defensively, Cincinnati has one of the best lines in the league, led by tackle Geno Atkins and end Michael Johnson. The former has nine sacks and the latter has eight. That's an impressive inside-out combination. And the Bengals have several other good players up front such as DT Domata Peko and DE Carlos Dunlap. Linebacker is being held together by a thread and safety is still a huge issue (if Taylor Mays is getting playing time at safety, it's a problem), but D-coordinator Mike Zimmer always finds a way to get the job done.This will be a huge game at San Diego this Sunday. The Chargers (4-7) are still smarting from giving away a game against the Ravens last year and it will be interesting to see how they respond. They are usually tough to beat at home, but maybe the Bengals are getting them at the right time. If the Bengals win and go 7-5, I fully expect them to eventually sneak in the playoffs as a wildcard. If they lose and fall to 6-6, it's going to be tough. I think they need to go at least 9-7 to get in.The good news is they still have games left against Dallas and at Philadelphia. Not only are both of those teams struggling, especially the Eagles, but the Bengals have dominated the NFC East so far this year, winning at Washington and blowing out the defending Super Bowl champion Giants in Cincinnati.I've been hard on Marvin Lewis, but credit goes out to him for having the Bengals in a legitimate position to make the playoffs for the second consecutive year.  
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Ronda Rousey knocks out Bethe Correia in 34 seconds

Von Miller earns dismissal from NFL’s drug program

Ian Kennedy watches birth of daughter on FaceTime before start

Matt Williams wants Bryce Harper to stop getting ejected

Five most underrated players in the NFL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Larry Lucchino stepping down as Red Sox CEO

Las Vegas Mob Museum to open FIFA corruption exhibit

Does NFL have a motive to settle with Tom Brady?

Big Ten coaches opposed to 9-game conference schedule

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Hill arrested for reckless driving, clocked going 107 mph

Danny Garcia beats Paulie Malignaggi, remains undefeated

Bobby Wagner, Seahawks agree to contract extension

Blount won't talk about reported failed conditioning test

Greg Hardy helps pay Cowboys fans to fly anti-Eagles banner

Report: 7-foot Aussie center to join Kentucky's 2015 class

Eagles trade CB Brandon Boykin to Steelers

Jack Del Rio: Crabtree ‘stood out’ at first Raiders camp practice

Browns owner: ‘We haven’t given up on Johnny Manziel’

Junior Seau’s daughter will speak at Hall of Fame induction

Golden State Warriors: the rich get richer

NFL, Brady could settle to avoid appeal documents going public

Miguel Herrera apologizes for costly Philly airport fight

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Five most underrated players in the NFL

Five potential NFL salary cap casualties this preseason

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Pirates do Pirates at deadline: Neat little moves

Mets acquire Cespedes from Tigers

Ranking the NFL’s 32 head coaches

Five worst baseball trades since 2000

Examining the state of the NFL

Puig: Broke out of slump by playing baseball video games

Braves dump risk, exchange it for risk

David Price traded to Blue Jays

The indefensible Hulk Hogan

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker