Despite a loss in the AFC title game, this is a franchise very much on the rise. Are the Cincinnati Bengals on the verge of their first Super Bowl title?
A little recent perspective when it comes to a franchise that made a pair of Super Bowl appearances back in the 1980s. The Cincinnati Bengals reached the postseason five consecutive years from 2011-15 but failed to win a playoff game. The next five seasons, the franchise managed a combined 25-53-2 resume.
However, the past two seasons has seen Zac Taylor’s squad not only manage a 22-11 mark and a pair of division titles, the Bengals own a 5-2 postseason record and reached consecutive AFC title games (with an appearance in Super Bowl LVI). This year, the club bested the Ravens and won at Buffalo before falling to Kansas City in the AFC title game.
What’s Next for the Cincinnati Bengals?
The 2022 Bengals came damn close to becoming just the fifth team to reach the Super Bowl after a 0-2 start. The franchise has built an impressive roster via the draft as well as shrewd moves in free agency. There’s still some work to be done as the club must once again refortify the offensive line while adding some playmakers in the secondary. Those areas could both be addressed in April’s draft.
As for free agency, the team has 15 veterans that could hit the open market in March (via Spotrac). The list includes safeties Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell, cornerback Eli Apple and linebacker Germaine Pratt. On the other side of the ball, tight end Hayden Hurst and physical runner Samaje Perine bear watching.
Biggest Offseason Concern?
Kudos to the team winning back-to-back division titles. That’s because keeping ahead of the other teams in the AFC North is always tough. During the regular season, the Bengals finished with an 8-3 record within the conference, with losses to the Steelers, Ravens, and Browns.
In the playoffs, Joe Burrow and company bested Baltimore and Buffalo before losing at Kansas City. Hence the Chiefs were the only non-AFC North team to beat the Bengals when it comes to conference play.
All the pieces are there for a championship run and now that the Bengals know how to win playoff games, it may be just a matter of time before Taylor’s club hoists a Lombardi Trophy.