Next up in our play-off team series, Stu from our Draft Talk team looks at ‘Why the Bengals will win the Super Bowl’ with Joe Burrow and co now back in the playoffs following a 6 year absence.
Bengals Head coach Zac Taylor has performed quite the turn around this season. A candidate to be on the hotseat, he is now steering a young team to greener pastures. The Bengals owners are patient with their head coaches (previous incumbent Marvin Lewis had 15 year tenure). This appointment is starting to pay off. Back to back losing seasons, with 2-14 and 4-11 records, would have seen many a head coach jettisoned.
Taylor, however, rode the storm and guided the Bengals to a 10-7 record and a first AFC North crown since 2015. 4 games now stand between Cincinnati and a much coveted first Lombardi trophy.
Clearly a lot of luck, not withstanding skill and determination, can play a role in being crowned World Champions, so what makes the Bengals special and how can the win the big one?
Bengals High Powered Offence
The centre piece of the Bengals high powered offence is their passing game. They are led by sophomore QB Joe Burrow who was 6th in the regular season in passing yards with 4611 on the year. Burrow also led the league in completion percentage (70%) and yards per attempt (8.9) amongst regular starting quarterbacks. He also ranked 3rd in passes completed over 40 yards (15) and had the third longest completion on the year. Any questions about his arm strength coming into the league have disappeared. It is clear to see that the former LSU man is a force to be reckoned with in the post-season.
However, top level QB play rarely occurs in isolation. Burrow has been complemented all season long by one of the leagues best pass catching trios. They boast rookie sensation Ja’Marr Chase, 2nd year player Tee Higgins and the ever reliable Tyler Boyd. Both Chase and Higgins topped the 1000 yard mark, and Boyd surpassed the 800 mark this year. The trio complement each other perfectly with their skill sets and gives opposing Defensive coordinators plenty to ponder.
However it is not just the passing game in which teams should be wary of the Bengals. The Bengals boast a top-end running back in Joe Mixon, 3rd in the rushing yards stakes in 2021 (1205 yards), He can also contribute with some decent pass catching ability out of the backfield. . Add in a solid receiving Tight End in CJ Uzomah and the Bengals can stress defences in multiple ways.
Although the current crop of players, or coaches, don’t have any NFL playoff experience, the 2021 season has certainly been a tough sled. The AFC North is a tough division in its own right. Perpetual playoff contenders Pittsburgh and Baltimore feature, alongside a competitive Browns unit. They’ve also faced the Packers, 49ers, Raiders and Chiefs this season – all who have made the play-offs. Have the Bengals won all these matches? No, but neither have they been blown away by any of these contenders. The experience of coming up against such quality opposition will only have stood them in good stead and hopefully they will have learned from this experience.
For my money to win the big one you are likely to have to go through the Kansas City Chiefs on the AFC side. Also they’ll have to best one of the Packers, Cowboys or Buccaneers in the NFC. All of these teams are able of racking up points quickly. The Bengals might just have the firepower needed to compete in a showdown. With Joe Burrow and co reaching high gear just at the right time, it only takes a team to get hot in the playoffs for dreams to come true. Why not Cincinnatti and the Who-Dey nation?