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Are Joe Burrow and the Bengals here to stay as a contender despite the 23-20 Super Bowl loss to the Rams? (1 Viewer)

Ministry of Pain

Footballguy
I say no for many reasons. 

-1st of all they need a lot of work despite the narrow loss. Their OL is leaky at best, they got Burrow killed Year 1 and they almost got him knocked out of the Super Bowl, he was never right after that injury where he cried out in pain on the replay. 

-They needed Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield injured and a decomposing Ben Roethlisberger, Cleveland has a much better Defense than CIncinatti and OL, Steelers are better on Defense, Baltimore might be better everywhere except at downfield passing at the QB position. I'm not sure Cincinnati can even win the AFC North in 2022. 

-How about Zac Taylor? The man should be FIRED!!! How do you not have the ball in Mixon's hands late on 3rd and 1, 4th and 1/2 a yard?  This is as egregious as Marshawn Lynch not getting the ball late in the Super Bowl with Seattle and New England where Wilson showed his true colors and throws the interception. Taylor should be fired and will continue to do poorly, he only needs to make the Playoffs and lose 1st round about 4-5 times in the next 15-20 years and he'll be just fine if Marvin Lewis was any measure of how the owner and front office treat their head coaches. 

-Brown is one of the worst owners in the league and much like Dolphins owner-Stephen Ross, Bengals tend not to change their stripes and I don't think Brown will have an epiphany. Taylor and Brown at the front of the ship steering things will be the unraveling of this team and eventually Joe Burrow wanting his way out of Cincinnati but I hope I am wrong for Burrow's sake. 

What say you?

 
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Tha Guru

Footballguy
I say no for many reasons. 

-1st of all they need a lot of work despite the narrow loss. Their OL is leaky at best, they got Burrow killed Year 1 and they almost got him knocked out of the Super Bowl, he was never right after that injury where he cried out in pain on the replay. 

-They needed Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield injured and a decomposing Ben Roethlisberger, Cleveland has a much better Defense than CIncinatti and OL, Steelers are better on Defense, Baltimore might be better everywhere except at downfield passing at the QB position. I'm not sure Cincinnati can even win the AFC North in 2022. 

-How about Zac Taylor? The man should be FIRED!!! How do you not have the ball in Mixon's hands late on 3rd and 1, 4th and 1/2 a yard?  This is as egregious as Marshawn Lynch not getting the ball late in the Super Bowl with Seattle and New England where Wilson showed his true colors and throws the interception. Taylor should be fired and will continue to do poorly, he only needs to make the Playoffs and lose 1st round about 4-5 times in the next 15-20 years and he'll be just fine if Marvin Lewis was any measure of how the owner and front office treat their head coaches. 

-Brown is one of the worst owners in the league and much like Dolphins owner-Stephen Ross, Bengals tend not to change their stripes and I don't think Brown will have an epiphany. Taylor and Brown at the front of the ship steering things will be the unraveling of this team and eventually Joe Burrow wanting his way out of Cincinnati but I hope I am wrong for Burrow's sake. 

What say you?
I agree about Brown and I think Taylor is just ok as a play caller.  The issue is you have all of these teams you mention getting better but the Bengals staying the same or getting worse?  No mention of the Bengals improving at any position to make them even better?

 

Ministry of Pain

Footballguy
I agree about Brown and I think Taylor is just ok as a play caller.  The issue is you have all of these teams you mention getting better but the Bengals staying the same or getting worse?  No mention of the Bengals improving at any position to make them even better?
Fair questions, Cinci can definitely improve but I feel they need work in many areas to get back to the Super Bowl, especially when you have so many top arms in 1 Conference. Mahomes and the Chiefs going to slide back, Allen and the Bills as well? I think it could take many seasons or years before Cincinnati will see another trip to the Super Bowl. 

But they have Burrow and that is worth an awful lot. 

 

rockaction

Footballguy
Surprisingly, I say yes. I think with two additions to the offensive line, hopefully addressed in the draft and free agency, they should be sorta fine. They're not as good as Buffalo and KC (I don't know that KC was destined for anything but inconsistency at the highest levels this year), but they should contend. I look at the LA Chargers and Denver Broncos potentially getting a whole lot better in the AFC, and Jackson will be back in Baltimore, but those aren't make-or-break concerns. 

I look at the seven best teams in the AFC and I see

Buffalo
Kansas City
Tennessee
Cincinnati 
Los Angeles
New England 
Baltimore

That's what I'm looking at right now. Of course, depending on who lands Watson or Rodgers, or if anybody lands them, will also determine if those are the seven I'd pick tomorrow. If Denver procures Rodgers, they're immediately ahead of Baltimore. If Miami lands Watson, the same thing. 

 

SwampDawg

Footballguy
All I know is they got to the dance, have a franchise QB and a stud WR for their tanking done right, at least Taylor understood the benefits. All we got in Miami was a QB that doesn't seem to have anyone's confidence, an undersized gadget WR and drawn into controversy thanks to Flo's change of heart and inability to execute the plan. At least the Bengals can have the conversation if they can stay there.

 

massraider

Footballguy
--They have a ton of work to do. And they were just in the Super Bowl. I am not sure that is the indictment you think it is. Every team has holes. They need to protect him, tis true. But offensive linemen are positions that are available. Every year, you can find un-special OL to help you win. Chiefs Super Bowl O-line? You don't NEED A+ Oline, you just need decent. Great if you have a stud line, and you can win because of a stud OLine, but you can get by with B- players across the line. Especially if you have A+ skill positions.

--Forget division, they are in a tough conference. But this point makes me question your original premise. 'Contender' means in the playoffs most of the next few years, to me anyway. If you have a different definition, fire away. If you agree with my definition, do you question that they will even be a playoff team? Cleveland?? My dood, if you don't have a QB, you might steal a game here or there over the next few years, but the NFL is an arms race, it's a video game, and if you don't have a good QB, you aren't even in the conversation.

--Not having Mixon in on 3rd and 1, and the Super Bowl coach should be fired? Uh, copy that. This is some screaming sport talk radio stuff right here. I really shouldn't add anything else, but I am reminded that when Andy Reid left Philly, the fans weren't even sure if he knew how a play clock worked.

--Brown is among the cheapest owners in the league, but one of the worst? I have real questions about his ability to spend enough to maintain a winning team, but spending in free agency is not the way to win long term. I look at it like this, he's not among the best, but he's not a Danny Snyder. The guy that are real bad, are way below him. 

 

Cjw_55106

Footballguy
Considering the question was posed as, are they here to stay as a contender, I don’t see how you can say no? Getting back to the Super Bowl or a deep playoff run is not necessary to be a contender. They should be in contention for the foreseeable future. 

 

zamboni

Footballguy
Considering the question was posed as, are they here to stay as a contender, I don’t see how you can say no? Getting back to the Super Bowl or a deep playoff run is not necessary to be a contender. They should be in contention for the foreseeable future. 
I agree with this. They certainly seem to have a lot of pieces in place - if they beef up the OL, they might be able to take that final next step. The tough part of course is that no matter how good the team is, it's very hard to get back to the Super Bowl, much less win it. In a one game, winner moves on, a lot can happen  - and often the best teams on paper are the ones who go home.

 

Ministry of Pain

Footballguy
--They have a ton of work to do. And they were just in the Super Bowl. I am not sure that is the indictment you think it is. Every team has holes. They need to protect him, tis true. But offensive linemen are positions that are available. Every year, you can find un-special OL to help you win. Chiefs Super Bowl O-line? You don't NEED A+ Oline, you just need decent. Great if you have a stud line, and you can win because of a stud OLine, but you can get by with B- players across the line. Especially if you have A+ skill positions.

--Forget division, they are in a tough conference. But this point makes me question your original premise. 'Contender' means in the playoffs most of the next few years, to me anyway. If you have a different definition, fire away. If you agree with my definition, do you question that they will even be a playoff team? Cleveland?? My dood, if you don't have a QB, you might steal a game here or there over the next few years, but the NFL is an arms race, it's a video game, and if you don't have a good QB, you aren't even in the conversation.

--Not having Mixon in on 3rd and 1, and the Super Bowl coach should be fired? Uh, copy that. This is some screaming sport talk radio stuff right here. I really shouldn't add anything else, but I am reminded that when Andy Reid left Philly, the fans weren't even sure if he knew how a play clock worked.

--Brown is among the cheapest owners in the league, but one of the worst? I have real questions about his ability to spend enough to maintain a winning team, but spending in free agency is not the way to win long term. I look at it like this, he's not among the best, but he's not a Danny Snyder. The guy that are real bad, are way below him. 
Super Bowl Contenders, what other contenders are there?

Nice post, not going to argue except that they might totally miss the Playoffs next year. Have to see how the off season unfolds. 

-FYI...the title is straight off the 1st Topic on FS1 with Nick Wright and Steve Brouusard and that crew this morning as I was trying to down some coffee. Thatw as the exact question presented. 

 
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Ministry of Pain

Footballguy
Considering the question was posed as, are they here to stay as a contender, I don’t see how you can say no? Getting back to the Super Bowl or a deep playoff run is not necessary to be a contender. They should be in contention for the foreseeable future. 
Contender is definitely deep Playoff run or Super Bowl appearance and I think Burrow might not see another Super Bowl for a long time. 

 

Ministry of Pain

Footballguy
I agree with this. They certainly seem to have a lot of pieces in place - if they beef up the OL, they might be able to take that final next step. The tough part of course is that no matter how good the team is, it's very hard to get back to the Super Bowl, much less win it. In a one game, winner moves on, a lot can happen  - and often the best teams on paper are the ones who go home.
What on Defense do they have that is irreplaceable so far? The other 3 teams in their Division would seem to have much stronger Defenses on paper. Eli Applrcart got torched last night by Cooper Kupp especially in crunch time he had no answers. 

 

Anarchy99

Footballguy
I heard a discussion on the radio the other day that they are the next team in consideration for a dynasty in the AFC post New England. I personally don't see it. but they needed something to talk about. 

Contenders? Sure. Why not? I think they were fortunate to get to the SB this year, and who knows how consistently they can get magic and good fortune to happen again. The AFC still has the Chiefs and Bills, the Ravens have been in the hunt when half their team hasn't been injured, the Titans have been in the running the past couple of years, the Chargers appear to be emerging with a legit QB, and who knows if the Patriots can get back to being a contender again. Every year there is a team or two that has a season better than expected (the Bengals and Raiders this year for example).

Like I said, contenders? Sure. Why not. I don't think they will start stringing SB appearances together, but they should be contenders for a playoff spot moving forward. You can't win the SB without getting in the playoffs, and once teams are in the tournament anything could happen. But I think we are at the point where playoff teams will be shuffled in and out each season, and there may not be a clear dominant team the way the game has been lately.

 

Da Guru

Fair & Balanced
I say no for many reasons. 

-1st of all they need a lot of work despite the narrow loss. Their OL is leaky at best, they got Burrow killed Year 1 and they almost got him knocked out of the Super Bowl, he was never right after that injury where he cried out in pain on the replay. 

-They needed Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield injured and a decomposing Ben Roethlisberger, Cleveland has a much better Defense than CIncinatti and OL, Steelers are better on Defense, Baltimore might be better everywhere except at downfield passing at the QB position. I'm not sure Cincinnati can even win the AFC North in 2022. 

-How about Zac Taylor? The man should be FIRED!!! How do you not have the ball in Mixon's hands late on 3rd and 1, 4th and 1/2 a yard?  This is as egregious as Marshawn Lynch not getting the ball late in the Super Bowl with Seattle and New England where Wilson showed his true colors and throws the interception. Taylor should be fired and will continue to do poorly, he only needs to make the Playoffs and lose 1st round about 4-5 times in the next 15-20 years and he'll be just fine if Marvin Lewis was any measure of how the owner and front office treat their head coaches. 

-Brown is one of the worst owners in the league and much like Dolphins owner-Stephen Ross, Bengals tend not to change their stripes and I don't think Brown will have an epiphany. Taylor and Brown at the front of the ship steering things will be the unraveling of this team and eventually Joe Burrow wanting his way out of Cincinnati but I hope I am wrong for Burrow's sake. 

What say you?


The short yardage calls were terrible!! And in reality, cost the Bengals a win. They will address the o-line.  Everyone thought they would draft Sewell but they took Chase.  Great pick too but left Burrow unprotected.

Yes the Bengals can return but they have to go through Allen, Mahomes and Herbert  in the future to even get to the dance. AFC is going to be very tough for the next decade as they have 4 of the best young QBs in the NFL.

 

IvanKaramazov

Footballguy
Like I said, contenders? Sure. Why not. I don't think they will start stringing SB appearances together, but they should be contenders for a playoff spot moving forward. You can't win the SB without getting in the playoffs, and once teams are in the tournament anything could happen. But I think we are at the point where playoff teams will be shuffled in and out each season, and there may not be a clear dominant team the way the game has been lately.
Anybody looking at the AFC and thinking that they see a long-term dominant team in that conference is probably new to football.  That conference is absolutely stacked with talent at the most important position in North American sports.  The idea of one team just stringing together championships is laughable.

 

SeniorVBDStudent

Footballguy
They are here to stay.  They just need to beef up the o line.

Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield are not QBs to be afraid of.

Edit: "here to stay" does not mean dynasty...I see them as favorites to win their division for the next year or 2.  too early for dynasty talk.

 
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rockaction

Footballguy
Or OL and OL. I'd start there. Don't forget, they were dropping seven or eight in coverage last night and rushing only three or four most plays. When they came with it, they got burned. 

 

Anarchy99

Footballguy
Just as a sidebar, I saw a couple of articles already predicting the divisions for next year. Low and behold, they predicted the same 8 division winners from this year for next year. I don't know how often that happens, but I am guessing it's not that frequently. Again, I get it, places need clicks, and they have to roll out something. I would have thought they would have had more hot takes than chalk, as that’s what gets more clicks.

 
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wlwiles

Footballguy
It wouldn't surprise me to see them make another run at a title and make a SB in the next couple years, but I wouldn't think they'll be the favorites to do so.  Still have KC and Buffalo as the top two in the AFC, and BAL/LAC/TEN should also be playoff teams.  The path through the AFC is definitely a tough road for the forseeable future. 

 

jvdesigns2002

Footballguy
I am not ready to call them favorites—but I think their future is very bright and I do think they will be a very relevant team if they stay healthy. 

 

Gally

Footballguy
What on Defense do they have that is irreplaceable so far? The other 3 teams in their Division would seem to have much stronger Defenses on paper. Eli Applrcart got torched last night by Cooper Kupp especially in crunch time he had no answers. 
I am not saying Apple is great but to say he got torched by Kupp so he is bad is definitely not saying much.  Everyone got torched by Kupp this year.  

 

jm192

Footballguy
I think the Bengals will be very good for a long time.  I think so long as they have Burrow, they'll make the playoffs most years.  

We can talk about the multiple weaknesses they had this year.  But they got to the Superbowl in spite of it.  They led for a lot of the 2nd half.  They won 3 playoff games in spite of their subpar O-Line.  It wasn't until they came across a generational talent in Donald they it did them in.  And even then, they lost by 3.  They were up with less than 2 minutes to go.  

The Chiefs have issues.  The Bengals beat the Chiefs twice.  A lot of people will have KC as the favorites for the AFC next year.  If they're contending--so is the team that just beat them twice.  

 

menobrown

Footballguy
Being a contender to me implies being in the thick of the mix, not necessarily the favorite, and sure I think that applies. Will they actually ever win it is the bigger question mark. Last two weeks everyone has been lauding their 6 man mom and pop scouting department but I won't. Also not ready to anoint Taylor as a good coach but he has enormous job security now and I only say that because if they continually can't get over the hump I think the franchise will be patient with him. Sometimes this can be a formula for never being able to get on top.

 

foxco

Footballguy
I think they're a contender for sure, but that just means they'll be in the mix for the next couple of years. They have the hardest thing to find, a franchise QB, and paired with a terrific WR corps and solid RB I think they're a playoff team for the near future. Super Bowls are hard to get to and the team needs some help so wouldn't predicted another trip to the big game, but wouldn't be surprised either. 

 

habsfan

Footballguy
As a Mixon owner, that's been the play book all this year at least (no pun intended). He catches well but on third down he's heading off the field and Perine is heading in.

 

Anarchy99

Footballguy
Looking back over some of the teams that went to the SB in the past 5-7 years, there were some teams that many people thought would be consistent contenders. Now that we can look in the rearview mirror, they sort of fizzled out. The Panthers, Eagles, Falcons, and Niners all seemed like they had a good mix of veterans and young talent. San Fran made a playoff run and PHI made the post season this year, but none of those teams really took a next step or went to another level.

Things feel a little different with the Bengals based on the strength of their offensive skill players, but they only won 10 regular season games. It's not like they were crushing people every week. It's all just a guess at this point. Going back 10-15 years, there were teams like the Colts, Saints, Packers (all with HOF QBs) that seemed like they would be making a ton of trips to the SB. There were also a few teams that got hot at the right time in the Ravens and Giants.

We'll have to see what the new world order holds without the Patriots or Brady being everyone's biggest obstacles.

 

Buckna

RMT Beta Tester
Anybody looking at the AFC and thinking that they see a long-term dominant team in that conference is probably new to football.  That conference is absolutely stacked with talent at the most important position in North American sports.  The idea of one team just stringing together championships is laughable.
Mahomes, Allen, Burrow, Jackson, Herbert, possibly one or more of Watson, Rodgers, or Wilson. Some possible up and comers like Lawrence, Mac, probably 1 of Stroud or Young next year too. Looks like it’s going to be a slugfest every year in the AFC playoffs going forward.

As for the question on the Bengals, history shows SB losers generally struggle to get back. But they’ve got a boatload of cap space and some key pieces on rookie deals for 3 to 4 more years. 5th youngest team in the league, only 1 player takes up more than 7% of their cap currently. They are in a good spot on paper going forward. Address the o’line, some Burrow maturation, (stay healthy is always key) and they should be in the thick of things for a while. Unless Cleveland or Pittsburgh solve their QB problems out of the blue, that division won’t be much of an issue the next few years IMO (I also think Jackson is very overrated as a QB, and Baker is not very good even when healthy. I could be wrong though.)

 

Anarchy99

Footballguy
To play the role of Captain Obvious, a lot will involve playoff matchups. As a Pats fan, I was hoping they would draw the Bengals. BB has a way of making young QBs that haven't faced the Pats look bad. The Bills were (and will continue to be) a matchup nightmare. If NE met CIN, the entire playoffs could have pivoted on a dime, and we might not be here talking about the Bengals. New England likely would have been crushed by the Bills or Chiefs in the second round, but they would have had more of a chance against Cincy than the Buffalo. That game never happened, and I can see where NE could have lost against the Bengals. But I doubt they would have been undressed and spanked like they were in the Bills game.

 

massraider

Footballguy
The topic has evolved into Super Bowl appearances. That's not the question. Will they be contenders? That's the question. It's a much lower bar to clear. 

It's funny, because if I am looking at the AFC teams, the Bengals, to me, are a much bigger threat than the Titans, or Chargers, Ravens. They have Burrow, Chase, and Higgins cheap for several years, and even when they extend them, they can make their cap numbers affordable for a few more years. Burrow/Chase/Higgins, none of whom will have monster cap numbers for years. That's an unbelievable advantage. What if the Chiefs had Mahomes, the Cheetah, and Kelce on rookie deals?

Just went to the Super Bowl, and have the 3rd most cap space in the league. Umm, that's pretty good.

Their best defenders are Reader and Hendrickson, both very reasonable cap numbers, and if they both fall apart, can be cut with very reasonable cap penalties.

Free agents: https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/free-agents/all/cincinnati-bengals//

Jesse Bates is the only must sign big ticket item there. 

The cheapness of the ownership, that's the big issue. It's a legit problem, but I am not sure it becomes an issue for a few years. It will probably pay off in the short term, if they decide to cut Mixon after next season. 

 

Long Ball Larry

Footballguy
Cheapness of ownership is certainly an issue, but this past offseason, they were finally able to convince Brown to spend some money and on the surface at least, it seemed to pay off.  The biggest factor that will determine whether they are really contenders will probably be whether those front office guys can use that to sell Brown on spending more in the future and hopefully be able to show him that spending money will make him money.

That plus a little more development of Burrow and Taylor's playcalling should keep them in contention.  I know that Burrow has made several wow throws this year, but regardless of the offensive line, the offense just rarely seems to pop as a synchronized machine.  I'm not sure who is mainly responsible for that, but my guess is that unless Taylor is a huge negative (which is possible), then Burrow + spending more should at least keep them in contender status for several years.

 

Ministry of Pain

Footballguy
The topic has evolved into Super Bowl appearances. That's not the question. Will they be contenders? That's the question. It's a much lower bar to clear. 

It's funny, because if I am looking at the AFC teams, the Bengals, to me, are a much bigger threat than the Titans, or Chargers, Ravens. They have Burrow, Chase, and Higgins cheap for several years, and even when they extend them, they can make their cap numbers affordable for a few more years. Burrow/Chase/Higgins, none of whom will have monster cap numbers for years. That's an unbelievable advantage. What if the Chiefs had Mahomes, the Cheetah, and Kelce on rookie deals?

Just went to the Super Bowl, and have the 3rd most cap space in the league. Umm, that's pretty good.

Their best defenders are Reader and Hendrickson, both very reasonable cap numbers, and if they both fall apart, can be cut with very reasonable cap penalties.

Free agents: https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/free-agents/all/cincinnati-bengals//

Jesse Bates is the only must sign big ticket item there. 

The cheapness of the ownership, that's the big issue. It's a legit problem, but I am not sure it becomes an issue for a few years. It will probably pay off in the short term, if they decide to cut Mixon after next season. 
Contenders does not mean Super Bowl appearances but it does mean making the Playoffs for sure almost every year and being talked about as one of the favorites, a 10:1 and under on the Vegas Oddsmakers, a Contender to advance not a contender for a better draft spot. 

I don't know how often the Bengals are going to be preseason favorites to go deep, say the AFCC or Divisional Round. 

I'm not sure Cincinnati is at that point just yet. 

 

massraider

Footballguy
Cheapness of ownership is certainly an issue, but this past offseason, they were finally able to convince


Brown


to spend some money and on the surface at least, it seemed to pay off.  The biggest factor that will determine whether they are really contenders will probably be whether those front office guys can use that to sell


Brown


on spending more in the future and hopefully be able to show him that spending money will make him money.

That plus a little more development of


Burrow


and


Taylor


's playcalling should keep them in contention.  I know that


Burrow


has made several wow throws this year, but regardless of the offensive line, the offense just rarely seems to pop as a synchronized machine.  I'm not sure who is mainly responsible for that, but my guess is that unless


Taylor


is a huge negative (which is possible), then


Burrow


+ spending more should at least keep them in contender status for several years.


I don't really know about how the CIN front office has behaved recently, I am really only mentioning it because I'm trying to come up with negatives. If Brown found his wallet, good for Bengals fans, lord knows they deserve it more than Rams fans. 

In terms of why the offense hasn't really hit on all cylinders yet, I might point out that their three best players on offense aren't old enough to rent a car and leave it at that. 

 

Anarchy99

Footballguy
The topic has evolved into Super Bowl appearances. That's not the question. Will they be contenders? That's the question. It's a much lower bar to clear. 

It's funny, because if I am looking at the AFC teams, the Bengals, to me, are a much bigger threat than the Titans, or Chargers, Ravens. They have Burrow, Chase, and Higgins cheap for several years, and even when they extend them, they can make their cap numbers affordable for a few more years. Burrow/Chase/Higgins, none of whom will have monster cap numbers for years. That's an unbelievable advantage. What if the Chiefs had Mahomes, the Cheetah, and Kelce on rookie deals?

Just went to the Super Bowl, and have the 3rd most cap space in the league. Umm, that's pretty good.

Their best defenders are Reader and Hendrickson, both very reasonable cap numbers, and if they both fall apart, can be cut with very reasonable cap penalties.

Free agents: https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/free-agents/all/cincinnati-bengals//

Jesse Bates is the only must sign big ticket item there. 

The cheapness of the ownership, that's the big issue. It's a legit problem, but I am not sure it becomes an issue for a few years. It will probably pay off in the short term, if they decide to cut Mixon after next season. 
Given where the Bengals are, they should be contenders for several seasons moving forward, but for any number of reasons that doesn't mean it will turn out that way. The offense with the weapons you cited clicked this year. They were all healthy. The defense wasn't even league average this year. Teams with defenses that low generally aren't true contenders. They lost to the Bears and the Jets. As much as they deserve credit for beating the Chiefs twice, they deserve demerits for losing to the Browns twice.

Cincy should have an advantage between the young talented guys they have and the cap space at their disposal. They also have a relatively inexperienced coach. I doubt the Bengals will sneak up on the rest of the league next year. Teams will be gunning for them. We don't know what we don't know, and one of the unknows is if they can draft as well at the back of the draft instead of the front. Rookies are a crapshoot, as are free agent signings. 

Here's their schedule for 2022:

Home: Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs
Road: Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys

The Bengals are heading into the offseason with an advantage over many other teams, but that is far from a guarantee that they will start distancing themselves from the rest of the AFC. They will be in the mix, along with several other teams.

 

ffmail4me

Footballguy
If they can improve the o-line I don't see why not. They have an elite franchise QB, an elite WR core, a very good RB, and a great young kicker. The pass rush looks very solid, although the back end could be better. 

I don't understand with a SB title on the line why they gave the ball to Perine instead of Mixon. My guess is, there wouldn't have been a 4th down if Mixon ran the ball. Perine is awful. He was in Washington and still is as a Bengal. Just blows my mind who called his number over Mixon there...

 

Ministry of Pain

Footballguy
I don't understand with a SB title on the line why they gave the ball to Perine instead of Mixon. My guess is, there wouldn't have been a 4th down if Mixon ran the ball. Perine is awful. He was in Washington and still is as a Bengal. Just blows my mind who called his number over Mixon there...
Unforgivable on Zac Taylor's part, also largely responsible for them giving away Midfield and the Rams jumping out 7-0. If OB doesn't go down, the Rams were up 13-3, driving and if they extend the lead there to say 20-3, maybe the Bengals make it a game but Taylor is a terrible hindrance at Head Coach for them to continue doing well. 

6-25 prior to this year.

 

Desert_Power

Footballguy
Getting a mid-80s Dolphins vibe because they have a really good QB and two huge weapons at WR, but can they build the rest of the team around it? Rams just showed a great example of how you can win with an aggressive front office/owner.

 

Gr00vus

Footballguy
I don't really know about how the CIN front office has behaved recently, I am really only mentioning it because I'm trying to come up with negatives. If Brown found his wallet, good for Bengals fans, lord knows they deserve it more than Rams fans. 

In terms of why the offense hasn't really hit on all cylinders yet, I might point out that their three best players on offense aren't old enough to rent a car and leave it at that. 
Burrow just turned 25 - making him roughly the same age as Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen, one year younger than Pat Mahomes.

 
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DocHolliday

Footballguy
If they can improve the o-line I don't see why not. They have an elite franchise QB, an elite WR core, a very good RB, and a great young kicker. The pass rush looks very solid, although the back end could be better. 

I don't understand with a SB title on the line why they gave the ball to Perine instead of Mixon. My guess is, there wouldn't have been a 4th down if Mixon ran the ball. Perine is awful. He was in Washington and still is as a Bengal. Just blows my mind who called his number over Mixon there...
Cincy should be contenders for the next few years since they have a ton of young talent.  The WR Corp is scary.   Burrow and Mixon are great.  The Bengals have flaws but it seems obvious that those will be addressed during the offseason.   

As another poster mentioned, I think Cincy overachieved this season.  The Bills seemed like the best team week to week and KC had the potential to be the best team but played hot and cold.  

 

Gally

Footballguy
Cincy should be contenders for the next few years since they have a ton of young talent.  The WR Corp is scary.   Burrow and Mixon are great.  The Bengals have flaws but it seems obvious that those will be addressed during the offseason.   

As another poster mentioned, I think Cincy overachieved this season.  The Bills seemed like the best team week to week and KC had the potential to be the best team but played hot and cold.  
Except when they lose to Jax to knock me out of a $500 buy in survivor pool.  Ugh!

 

rockaction

Footballguy
Except when they lose to Jax to knock me out of a $500 buy in survivor pool.  Ugh!
Oh, that's some bad luck. That game was stunning. When I think about it, though, the Bills were up and down all year. You picked the wrong week to get hit by a truck, I guess. 

 

Timmay

Footballguy
As long as the Bengals have Joe Burrow, they will be here to stay. They have at least 3 more years of Burrow on his rookie deal, which allows them to spend elsewhere. I have my doubts that Mike Brown will do this, but he loves his team, he is at every game, every practice. I think this taste of success late in life will push him to want to get a Super Bowl. 

Bengals priorities this offseason include: 

-Acquire 2-3 OL via FA or draft, guys that can come in and contribute right away. I would love 1-2 via FA and 3 via draft (plug and play). Orlando Brown would be nice 😬

-Extend/Re-sign Jesse Bates (either franchise him or pay the man).

-Resign Ogunjobi, BJ Hill, Uzomah, Huber, Clark Harris and Brandon Allen. 

-Get a healthy Joseph Ossai back in the lineup and draft another edge rusher with potential. Look at signing another DT they can rotate in as well. 

-Cut Trae Waynes saving over 10 mil and sign a Nickel CB. 

-Retain LB Coach Al Golden and OL Coach Frank Pollack. Keep them at any cost. 

Bengals have to take advantage before they really have to start paying Burrow, Chase, Higgins, Logan Wilson just to name a few.   

 

Sam Quentin

Footballguy
Zac Taylor not having Mixon in on that last drive was a horrible decision, but I think he’s a really good coach, and it would be a mistake to fire him.

 

Sam Quentin

Footballguy
I am curious about the Rams. Whitworth will retire.  Aaron Donald may retire.  Stafford is getting older.  Will they be able to retain the guys that they have left?

 

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