Sports

Are the Bengals the Next Superbowl Powerhouse?

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As a Cincinnati native, I’ve been used to seeing our sports teams fail. The Reds never seem to have any fire behind them, FC Cincinnati has been awful since they joined the MLS, and the Bengals have always been the laughingstock of them all.

“Hey, here comes the Bungles!”

“Don’t worry, our team will win, it’s the Bungles we’re playing this week.”

“1991…”

The city abandoned the team that always came up short in the playoffs. And for a long time, there was no light at the end of the tunnel for the Bengals. That was until the 2021-2022 season…

After Joe Burrow’s season ending injury, a lot of people around the country were weary as to whether or not Joe was going to be able to recover 100% back to his old self. During the offseason, the Bengals went all in on free agency. They signed Trey Hendrickson, Riley Reiff, Chidobe Awuzie, and much more. Their most notable draft pick was Ja’Marr Chase, Burrow’s old college teammate.

People were skeptical about Chase and argued that drafting an offensive lineman in Penei Sewell should’ve been what they Bengals were to go for. In the preseason, it looked like Ja’Marr Chase was going to be the biggest bust of all time. The man couldn’t catch the ball even if it were lobbed at him from a few yards away, but eventually he went on to straighten himself out.

There were a lot of surprises this season. Most people picked the Bengals to go 6-11 and placing 3rd in their division. However, they came out with a splash in their first game; winning 27-24 against the Vikings.

In my opinion, what defined the Bengals season was their first game against the Ravens. The Bengals were the underdogs by -3.5, and most believed that the Bengals were going to be blown out. In a shocking turn of events, the Bengals ended up winning…41-17. The offense exploded in the second half of the game, and Burrow and Chase connected for 201 yards.

This game was the pinnacle of what you should expect from the Bengals: if you bet against them, get ready to pay up.

Two more significant games that occurred happened consecutively on weeks 16 and 17. Burrow absolutely lit up the league in passing yards. On week 16, Burrow and the Bengals blew out the Ravens again 41-21. But that wasn’t the story, the story was that Joe Burrow threw for 525 yards. It was one of the highest amounts of passing yards thrown in NFL history.

Things like this is what came with the Bengals. Once they finally had some momentum, they played like they were the best team in football. Of course, with any team there will be bad games here and there, but what made the Bengals different this year compared to years past is that they were able to rebound from it.

It’s my belief that Joe Burrow’s leadership (and his swag) also played a huge part, along with Zac Taylor’s new approach to hyping the team up. While Andy Dalton was a pretty good quarterback for the Bengals, he didn’t carry himself like Burrow does. That’s the key in making any successful team, your starting guy must be the source of positivity and confidence while also staying focused on the game. This leadership is what led the Bengals to the Super Bowl; a Super Bowl that they weren’t expected to even get a little taste of.

Now with all of this in mind, are the Bengals going to be the next Super Bowl powerhouse? Could Cincinnati have a reign like the Patriots and Tom Brady had? It looks like it could happen. The Bengals are on track to winning a Super Bowl within the next few years, but what matters most in times like these are free agent signings, drafting well, and contract extensions.

Mike Brown is notoriously cheap. And if you live in Cincinnati, you know that finding an owner who’s willing to splash some money is virtually unheard of. The owner of the Reds, Bob Castellini, hasn’t spent the huge buck since Joey Votto’s 10-year/$225M contract in 2012. Rather than signing a huge contract for one player, Mike Brown needs to have multiple players signed for a couple seasons each.

At the end of the day the Bengals need to sign some offensive linemen to protect Burrow. The fact that he was sacked 70 times this season and still brought the team to the Super Bowl shows that the Bengals can win one. If they can cut that number in half, then I think it’s a done deal that Cincinnati will have a championship team again.

By Ben Mattingly, Activist Writer

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