Palmer, defensive additions keys to growth

After two straight 8-8 seasons, the Bengals believe they're ready to get over the hump and make the playoffs in 2005.

Updated: June 29, 2005, 2:55 PM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

The NFL is geared to be a league of parity, as evidenced by the number of teams that annually fall somewhere between 9-7 and 7-9. But the toughest move sometimes is making that next step, getting to the 10-win level.

Being stuck in the middle of the pack can become a dangerous rut because fans – and often owners – get frustrated. Good coaches can't become great coaches without having playoff games on their résumés and many good coaches lose jobs by not advancing to that next step.

The ...

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