The Cincinnati Bengals will play in Super Bowl LVI against the Los Angeles Rams, but they shouldn’t look too far for motivation.
Often, an underdog will find a source of motivation and use it to their advantage and heading into Tinseltown; there are several motivating factors.
For one, schools have been closed for the day after the Super Bowl in Cincinnati. It would be a good call for the Bengals to win to ensure that the day is filled with joy instead of grief. Also, for quarterback Joe Burrow, it’s a chance to cement his legacy even further than it has.
But here’s the deal. All those motivating factors are nice, but what should be considered is studying other teams who have played the role of underdog.
A good example is the 2004 Detroit Pistons. What do they have to do with the Bengals? Not much, but there is something similar between them both. Both play franchises from Los Angeles in the championship.
Ok? And what else? Both were underdogs heading into this matchup, and the Los Angeles teams were loaded on paper and had star power all across the board. Take the Rams, for example. Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr, Von Miller, Aaron Donald, and Jalen Ramsey. Star-ridden lineup, right?
Also, need we forget how Cincinnati was supposed to lose in Tennessee to the Titans and that there was “no way” they could go into Kansas City and beat Patrick Mahomes? That’s been documented.
Furthermore, can we please spare the Tom Brady comparisons to Burrow? Burrow is not Brady; he is his own man and a man on a mission, as is his team.
The Cincinnati Bengals have a chance to shock the world and win the Super Bowl, and by learning from others who conquered the mountain, they can do it too.
This year, the Bengals weren’t even thought about as a playoff team, and now here they stand atop the AFC, just one win away from the franchise’s first title. They now face a team that essentially mortgaged their entire future for this opportunity.
Don’t get it wrong, the Rams are an incredible story, especially the rebirth of Matthew Stafford, and they indeed have built a formidable opponent and defeated top-notch quality to reach this point. But in this Super Bowl, despite the spread, they are highly favored, and they are hosting the event in their own park.
But, as we heard on the Rich Eisen show, fans at the NFC Championship cheered loudly when the Bengals won against the Chiefs on a walk-off field goal by Evan McPherson, meaning Kansas City would not be in the Super Bowl, and instead, it would be Cincinnati. Either there was genuine happiness for Cincinnati to win, or there is the mindset that the Bengals are a preferred opponent.
Whatever the case is, Cincinnati has motivation. The 2004 Pistons are just an example of looking and learning how an underdog shocked a Los Angeles team. There are many other examples to look at if they want to be fired up. The questions about their offensive line being able to hold up against the vaunted Rams front seven will be a question of persistence.
It’s just for thought, but then again, the point spread might be enough, and so will the headlines for the next two weeks. Any chatter about Brady comparisons, along with other news, is merely a distraction. Cincinnati need only look at their fanbase and the point spread and be ready for it.
They have been doubted so much, and all they need to do is come through one more time against a team with some of the NFL’s biggest stars, and they will get to hoist a trophy. There is only one shot left to do it, so can they make it count? Let’s see.