Why The Cincinnati Bengals Will Dominate The AFC North

Emile Pierce

If you haven't noticed, the Bengals are suddenly becoming the darlings of the NFL. Most Bengals faithful would gladly offer arguments over the details. They would also be inclined to mention that most people (analysts and long time doubters) are merely getting set to jump on the bandwagon. After five current players made the NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2016 list, there's a chance that the Bengals will be an AFC North force.

Geno Atkins was recently ranked at No. 29 on the list. He joins Carlos Dunlap, Tyler Eifert, Andy Dalton, and Andrew Whitworth on the prestigious listing. If Reggie Nelson were still a member of the Bengals franchise, he would make the count an even half-dozen. During the free agent period, Nelson left to bask on the sunny beaches of Raider Nation.

With so many appearances on the list, the Bengals look like the hands down AFC North favorite. But, it takes more than just names on a list to win another division crown. The Bengals will need to deliver. The scenario has been the same for six years. Bengals brass annually builds a competitive team. Throughout the regular season, the Bengals win with ease. Yet, the postseason always tosses a monkey wrench into the program.

The defense will be sound. Bengals brass was able to keep the core of last year's championship-caliber unit intact. The losses were minimal, compared to what could have happened. Losing Emmanuel Lamur, Wallace Gilberry, and Nelson shouldn't be a problem. With a foundation of young and hungry hopefuls, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will have the building blocks for more success.

Bengals' defensive line coach Jacob Burney will definitely have the studs. Rotating players will be a key factor to the dominance of the D. Keeping a fresh wave of bodies coming will be hard on opposing offenses.

"In today's game, if you think you're going to stick four out there and they're just going to play those 85 plays for you in today's NFL, that's not happening," Burney explained, per Cincinnati Bengals.

"So you've got to get more than that ready to play. You've got to get seven ready to play. And then you can't be afraid to put them in there."

So far, Zampese and Dalton are on the same page. It's about the end result. The bond that the two offensive minds create is paramount. There has to be a trusting relationship that goes beyond words. They have to build a mental connection. Zampese stressed the importance, per the Cincinnati Enquirer.

"Oh, absolutely. Relationships is where it all starts. So the farther along you are with that, the better off you're going to be as you implement whatever you want to do."

Cincinnati has the talent and ability to take their winning to another level. The dominance of the AFC North should be just the beginning. The Bengals are capable of so much more.

[Photo by Gary Landers/AP]