In 2011, for the third time in Marvin Lewis’ tenure, the Bengals made the postseason, but failed again to win their first playoff game since 1990. Nevertheless, the Bengals are a promising team with talent on both sides of the ball, as shocking and disturbing as that sentence is to write. Still reaping the benefits of the Carson Palmer trade, the team drafted well and replaced their average running back with a slightly younger average running back.

Five Fast Facts About The Bengals:

- Nate Clements voiced Wolf Fart #36 in Ice Age: Continental Drift.

- Should the Bengals ever win the Super Bowl, Mike Brown would suggest dumping the other team’s Gatorade on the head coach. That stuff don’t fall out of the sky. Trying to reduce waste, guys.

- Jordan Shipley is returning from an ACL injury, but is reportedly on the trade block. Dealing him would leave the full load of offensive scrappiness on Brian Leonard’s stiff, hunched-up shoulders.

- An NFL timekeeper will be tallying how late each of Vontaze Burfict’s hits are this season. If the accumulated time post-whistle exceeds two full minutes, Roger Goodell gets to detain him in a secret underground prison of his choosing.

- Everyone in Domata Peko’s phone contacts is listed as either pizza or not pizza.

Notable acquisitions: BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Terence Newman, Dre Kirkpatrick, Kevin Zeitler, Travelle Wharton

Notable departures: Jerome Simpson, Cedric Benson, Andre Caldwell, Nate Livings

Vegas win total over/under: 7.5 wins

KSK verdict: OVER

Fantasy player you’ll want to dig at with rusty hooks: BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Law Firm didn’t pile up a ton of yards with the Patriots, because no running back does that in New England. But he did put up double-digit touchdown totals the last two years. He won’t get as many goal line opportunities in Cincinnati that got in New England, but he should get more carries, so that should somewhat offset the drop. Law Firm is fairly useless in the pass game, so he won’t get to pad stats much that way. At least Bernard Scott is presently injured, silencing the annual preseason speculation that he’s going to drain carries from the Bengals’ starting rusher.

Fan forecast, by Who Dey Revolution:

“It’s strange territory for long time Bengals fans this offseason. There’s actually reason to have hope. We’re not talking about homer-based auto-hope that perpetually infects all fanbases regardless of reality each offseason. We’re talking about hope derived from a dispassionate evaluation of the actual facts. Those facts more or less consist of the following:

1. A young, talented playoff team from last year returns virtually the entire roster
2. There is excellent coaching from both the defensive and offensive coordinators (Mike Zimmer and yes, holy shit I can’t believe it either, Jay Gruden)

3. On paper, the Bengals drafted pretty well (by this we mean we were mostly pleased by the selections after the fact, which is something wholly foreign to Bengals fans post draft)
4. The Bengals did weird things like actually hire scouts, because in case you didn’t know, the Bengals don’t have those

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and farts…this is the Bengals we’re talking about. Already, top draft pick Dre Kirkpatrick suffered an injury that has him out at least the entire preseason. The schedule, which broke in an incredibly favorable way last year, should step up more than a few degrees of difficulty. There’s also the mountain of cap space the Bengals chose to sit on during free agency instead of adding players in positions of need in a year with lots of free agent depth. We understand wanting the Bengals “front office” to make moves in free agency is a fools errand because they are generally terrible at evaluating talent. However, when the outcome is either a) the player is good so hooray (no examples) or b) the player sucks and the Brown family is out a bunch of money (Antonio Bryant)…we’d prefer to see some action. More to the point, the blatant exploitation of a lack of true salary floor for profit is yet another giant middle finger from ownership to the fans. Oh and did we mention the Steelers and Ravens are always seemingly in the way?

More than any specific potential hurdles facing the Bengals this season, however, there remains a general lingering stink from 20+ years of ownership under Mike Brown. The last time things looked this good in Bengaldom was going into 2005 when Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson and friends were poised to break out. The Bengals managed to ruin that 2005 young nucleus basically within one year. That 2005 crop of players arguably had more talent than the current crop led by Andy Dalton and AJ Green, so why won’t that simply happen again?

One reason that might surprise those not intimately familiar with the Bengals franchise (i.e., everyone) is Marvin Lewis. Most of you know Marvin as the guy who uses challenges with less success than Roger Federer (astonishing really). However, what you may not understand is that for a franchise run on the cheap by an incompetent family with no front office…Marvin Lewis is the sole force within the Bengals trying to make it a modern NFL franchise. So sure, Marvin re-signing with the Bengals for the third time is similar to a fat guy swimming with his shirt on (he’s ashamed but does it anyway). But realize that although Marvin may be a whatever head coach for the 31 other NFL teams, he’s very valuable to the Bengals. Perhaps he will bring the stability and structure to the organization that allows them not to ruin a promising young core of talent? Or at least, he may buy a couple of extra years before they’re ruined?

At any rate, for the first time most Bengals fans can remember, there is reason for actual hope. We suggest enjoying it a little, but not too much, because in all likelihood it’ll be snuffed out soon.”