Here come the elite teams of the 2013. Rounding out the bottom of the playoff tree, I have the Bengals. From a pure talent standpoint, they should win the division, but they always seem to come up short to one of the big two in the AFC North; the Baltimore Ravens or Pittsburgh Steelers.
The biggest key to this team is whether or not they can diversify away from their one trick pony offensive attack. That being Andy Dalton to A.J. Green every other play. I do not expect this team to break through the top crust of the AFC, but they'll be competing for a playoff spot come late December.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (2012 Record: 10-6)
The Bengals surpassed the Steelers last season, finally getting over the hump, and I think that trend continues. In spite of having a ton of low character guys, Marvin Lewis is able to hold things together year after year. Their style of play fits the AFC North rather well and they could seriously challenge for the division title this year.
They went heavy on the offensive line in the draft this year, which is smart because keeping Andy Dalton upright is a big key to ending with a successful regular season. They also picked up Tyler Eifert in the first round, which should take some of the pressure off of A.J. Green next season. A scary thought considering how dominate he has been as Dalton's only true go-to guy.
Overall, I think the Bengals might be the strongest team in the division, but I'm not ready to give them the benefit of the doubt. They need to prove they can bring down the Steelers and Ravens before I'll crown them. After finishing the 2012 regular season winning seven of their last eight games, the Bengals could be one of the leagues surprise breakout teams in 2013.