Playoffs elite enough

I think there are alot of people out there who have the attitude that the Bengals are not quite to the Level of teams like the Steelers, or New England. I totally disagree with that and feel they are at a point where they can move into this elite group of NFL teams they just have to beat the Steelers and Colts. What are your thoughts on where this team is at as a team with a Goal of winning the Super Bowl?** Jason, Florence, Ky.

If the Bengals beat all the teams on their schedule that right now have losing and .500 records (Green Bay, Baltimore twice, Cleveland, Buffalo and Detroit), and lose to all the teams that have winning records right now (Pittsburgh twice, Indianapolis, and Kansas City) they'll finish 11-5 and that ought to be elite enough for anybody no matter who they play. And, it ought to be good enough to make the playoffs in a conference that already has 10 teams with at least three losses.

Forget the record of the competition. Those teams could be reversed in a month. Buffalo may get on a roll with Kelly Holcomb, Ray and Jamal Lewis could will Baltimore to a seven-game winning streak, and how soon will Ben Roethlisberger be back at full steam for the Steelers?

Any 16-game NFL schedule ought to be elite enough. If they make the playoffs, there are going to be some good teams staying home. They would be like any other playoff team. They beat some good teams and bad teams along the way.

But they have the personnel to beat Pittsburgh and the Colts. The Patriots' big-play quarterback and wide receivers hurt the Steelers in last year's AFC championship game, and as good as the Colts have been on defense, they went into Monday night's game ranked 17th against the run.

Can they win it all this year? Right now?

Last year, the Patriots were seventh in offense and ninth in defense with a plus-9 turnover differential. In 2003, the Pats were 17th in offense and seventh in defense with a plus-17 turnover differential. Both years, they won the Super Bowl. Right now, the Bengals are No. 3 in offense, 16th in defense with a plus-16 differential.

The numbers, quarterback Carson Palmer, and an opportunistic defense don't make it as crazy as it sounds.

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