(Anthony Munoz, Andy Dalton photos courtesy of Cincinnati Bengals)
Talk of Fame Network
The Cincinnati Bengals not only haven’t lost this season, but seven weeks into their schedule they have a three-game lead on the field in the AFC North. So they’re on track to win the division.
But are they on track to win a playoff game?
That, of course, is the question that will follow the Bengals throughout the season – mostly because they haven’t won since 1991. What’s more, coach Marvin Lewis is 0-6 in the playoffs and Andy Dalton – who’s having the best season of his career – is 0-4, with one touchdown pass and six interceptions.
History is against them, but Hall-of-Famer Anthony Munoz is not. A former Bengals’ star, Munoz told the Talk of Fame Network that he believes this year’s Bengals are good enough not just to win a playoff game but to reach the Super Bowl for the first time since … well, since Munoz played for them.
“This team not only has the physical makeup but I think they’ve shown they have the mental makeup to end up in San Francisco,” he said on the TOF’s latest broadcast. “Of course, everybody talks about the playoffs. You never hear about the 10 or 11 wins the last four or five years, but I think they have the personnel (and) they have the depth (to make it).
“One of the things I’ve been looking at is that they have an extremely tough schedule. (But) they’ve started out great and are undefeated, and, as you know, they still have some tough games ahead of them. But I do believe they have the makeup to do it.”
The key, of course, is Dalton, who has been underwhelming – and that’s being kind – in his four playoff losses. The good news is that he’s taken the Bengals to the playoffs in each of his four pro seasons and seems headed for a fifth consecutive trip this year. The bad, of course, is that once he gets there, he belly flops.
But Munoz is quick to defend Dalton, saying he looks like a different quarterback with the weapons available to him now. And he is high on the depth and quality of the team’s personnel – pointing out that it’s not so much Dalton as it is the team’s health that will determine how far the Bengals go.
“Joe Montana didn’t beat Boomer Esiason,” he said when talking about Dalton. “Joe Montana didn’t beat Ken Anderson. Andy Dalton did not lose to Philip Rivers. It’s the whole squad. You look at all the injuries they’ve had over the years. Sure, he hasn’t played that well, but just watching him I think he has something he didn’t have in the previous years.
“You ask me: Is this a team to get there? And I’m going to backtrack and say, ‘If they stay healthy.’ With their perimeter guys – A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, (Mohamed) Sanu, Tyler Eifert … I mean, you talk about mismatches? Tyler Eifert was out all last season. Marvin Jones was out. They were not there.
“The offensive line is pretty good, and you’ve got Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard (as running backs). So the key is going to be health. And then I think this is the year that Andy can do it. The Baltimore game and the Seattle game – the way he handled bringing them back – has really shown a lot. It speaks volumes.”