When casual fans or NFL experts talk about the best team in the NFL this season, teams such as Seattle, Denver, New England and New Orleans are the popular picks. However, one team that is quietly peaking at the right time is the Cincinnati Bengals. At 9-4, they have a shot at picking up the #2 seed in the AFC if they can finish with the same record as New England. Could they actually string together a few wins in the playoffs?

Cincinnati has been a pretty good team these last few seasons, but they have done next to nothing in the playoffs. They have a young core, led by quarterback Andy Dalton and standout fantasy football wide receiver AJ Green. It comes down to their complementary players though, and right now they are looking really good.

This past Sunday, they extended their winning streak to three games by beating a solid Indianapolis Colts team 42-28. This has been done without Dalton being at his best, so the offense could become even more potent these last few weeks of the regular season.

One player in particular who has stepped up is Giovani Bernard. After being blocked by BenJarvus Green-Ellis a lot to begin the season, he now is getting more touches and seeing his fantasy football value shoot up. This running game-passing game balance makes them a nightmare for defenses.

Speaking of defense, the team has been ranked in the top 10 for most of the season in pass and rush defense. They have been able to beat Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Andrew Luck to name a few marquee quarterbacks. The balance this team has from top to bottom should give them a legitimate shot to win their first Super Bowl title in franchise history. Until they prove themselves in the playoffs though, the national media will not be completely sold on this team.