For the first time in years, the Bengals enter the regular season with championship expectations. Over the past couple of years, fans have watched young stars A.J. Green and Andy Dalton improve; now, those fans expect them to deliver a trip to the Super Bowl.
The Cincinnati Bengals came into the 2011 season with relatively low expectations with a rookie quarterback and wide receiver. When the season ended, they were the surprise team of the NFL, winning nine games and making the playoffs. Now with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green having a year of play under their belts, expectations for Cincy are much higher, but it won't be easy. The team has to play the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens each twice, as well as a game each against the Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys and the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
The Cincinnati Bengals began play in 1968 as an expansion team in the AFL before joining the NFL in 1970 during the AFL-NFL Merger. The team was founded by Paul Brown, who chose the name Bengals, in part due to the star of the city's world renowned zoo mascot, the white Bengal Tiger. The Bengals have had some success in their team's history, most notably their two trips to the Super Bowl, though they lost both times to Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers.
Unfortunately, most of the rest of Bengals history has been synonymous with losing. Since 1991, the team has only made the playoffs three times, losing each time in the first round. The team has had some exciting players suit up for them including Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson (a.k.a. Chad Ochocinco). The team has since moved on from those players and are now entering a new and bright future behind up-and-coming stars A.J. Green and Andy Dalton. If those two are able to stay healthy in the long term, the Bengals will be a formidable team for years to come in the AFC North.