The Cincinnati Bengals are proving to prove they’re no fluke. If they do so, it’ll be about a complete team effort, not just Joe Burrow.
Joe Burrow is the front man of the Cincinnati Bengals’ band, but the rest of the musicians are more than just stand-ins for the concert.
Last season, the Bengals made a stunning run to the Super Bowl, fueled by a late charge behind an explosive offense and an emerging defense. This offseason, general manager Duke Tobin went out and aggressively upgraded the front which allowed the most sacks in football last year, signing interior linemen Ted Karras and Alex Kappa before landing La’el Collins at right tackle, after he was a cap casualty with the Dallas Cowboys.
Defensively, the Bengals largely stood pat, only making a big splash by drafting safety Dax Hill out of Michigan in the first round. Hill will play across from Jessie Bates, who was given the franchise tag. Cincinnati has until July 15 to extend Bates or face the real possibility of losing him in free agency come 2023.
Yet for now, Cincinnati isn’t focused on a year ahead. It’s focused on the campaign ahead, which could produce the first Super Bowl winner in franchise history.
Finally, the Bengals have their franchise quarterback in Burrow, who threw for more than 4,000 yards in only his second season. He’s got arguably the best weapons in football with receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, alongside running back Joe Mixon.
Defensively, the Bengals have talent on all three levels. The secondary is headlined by the aforementioned duo of Hill and Bates, while the linebackers have an underrated duo in Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt. Up front, Pro Bowl edge rusher Trey Hendrickson is an elite talent, giving Cincinnati enough to be a problem for any opposing offensive coordinator.
Still, the AFC is a gauntlet. The Kansas City Chiefs — who the Bengals beat twice last year — remain a force. The Buffalo Bills are the favorites to win it all in many Vegas books. The Baltimore Ravens were on track to be the AFC’s top seed in November, only to have injuries derail them. The Los Angeles Chargers have as much top-line talent as anybody in football, and the Denver Broncos just added Russell Wilson under center.
But for the Bengals, a complete team effort spearheaded by one of the league’s top quarterback might be enough to topple them all. Again.