The Bengals may be the next dominant team in the NFL

Over the past decade, we’ve seen dominate teams rise from young rosters and star quarterbacks. As the NFL has become a more pass-centric league, there’s no reason that should stop.

Right now, the dominate teams in the NFL seem to be the usual suspects. The Patriots, Broncos, Saints, Packers and the Steelers are all led by veteran stars that carry their teams. Other teams like the 49ers and Seahawks were surprise successes a year ago and are led by young quarterbacks. That raises the question, who will be the next team to break through as a consistent contender.

Despite operating out of a difficult division, the Cincinnati Bengals finally have an opportunity in the AFC North to make it big. The Baltimore Ravens took significant roster hits this offseason, and the Pittsburgh Steelers were unable to significantly update their defense.

The Bengals aren’t just in the right place at the right time either. They have all the pieces needed to build a successful football team that could persist for years to come. Marvin Lewis, the team’s veteran head coach, has been through the good and the bad of the Bengals, and he’s well-equipped to handle nearly any football related situation that may arise.

The next big checklist item, a great young quarterback, is also present in Cincinnati. Andy Dalton doesn’t have the league’s biggest arm, but he’s able to efficiently distribute the football to a number of targets around the field. His decision making keeps the defense off balance, and because he moves the ball around the field well, it’s difficult for the defense to shut the offense down by blanketing any one guy.

In addition to Dalton, the Bengals have weapons for Dalton to play with. BenJarvus Green-Ellis gives the team a legitimate running threat while A.J. Green and tight end Jermaine Gresham open up the passing game as consistent targets.

Finally, the Bengals have assembled a great defense, and they’ve done so relatively quietly. While the group doesn’t headline any huge names, it functions just as a defense should — a unit. The Bengals force opponents into making mistakes with a solid pass rush that compliments their offense’s style of play.

Unlike many other young teams in the NFL, the Bengals have a solid roster through and through. The team still has to find a way to become more consistent, especially against some of the better teams in the league, but all the pieces are present to make the Bengals the next long-term, dominant team in the NFL.

About Shane Clemons

Shane Clemons came from humble beginnings creating his own Jaguars blog before moving on to SBNation as a featured writer for the Jaguars. He then moved to Bloguin where he briefly covered the AFC South before taking over Bloguin's Jaguars blog. Since the inception of This Given Sunday, Shane has served as an editor for the site, doing his best not to mess up a good thing.