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The Bengals are probably going to win the Super Bowl this year

They say I don’t know much about football, nor do I write much about football.

It’s all drama when it comes to yours truly. It’s all soap opera. It’s all theater.

I don’t know about any of that jazz, but I do feel I have a pretty good sense of NFL history, and history tells me there’s almost always someone like Joe Burrow playing quarterback at any given time. Burrow is the kind of quarterback who either already has a Super Bowl ring or is on his way to earning one.

I believe the 2023/2024 NFL campaign will be the one in which Burrow finally earns that ring when he leads the Bengals to their first Lombardi trophy with a victory in Super Bowl LVIII. I say this because Burrow seemed destined for that ring the moment the Bengals selected him first overall in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Burrow began his college career at Ohio State before transferring to LSU in 2018. It was in 2019 that Burrow exploded onto the scene as the best quarterback in college football, and maybe even the best player, as he led the Tigers to a victory over Clemson in the National Championship Game. Naturally, Burrow threw for 463 yards and five touchdowns in that matchup while adding a sixth thanks to his underappreciated running ability.

  • Burrow’s individual honors prior to that title game included being voted First-Team All-American, First-Team All-SEC, and the SEC Player of the Year.
  • In addition to those honors, Burrow won the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Manning Award, and (fittingly enough for the purposes of this article) Lombardi Award.
  • I’m not done. Burrow was also named the AP College Football Player of the Year and the Sporting News College Football Player of the Year.
  • Oh yeah, and Burrow walked away with college football’s most prestigious individual honor in 2019: The Heisman Trophy.

In other words, Burrow entered the NFL as the golden boy of all golden boys.

The only problem was, he was drafted by the Bengals; there was no way he could possibly do anything to change the fortunes of that sad sack franchise, which was true…thanks to a torn ACL AND MCL he sustained in late November of 2020.  The Bengals finished 4-11-1 in 2020 and were the Bungals once more. As it turned out, the Bengals were not the Same Old Bungals. Instead, they were becoming an all-around talented team that was built through the draft and with the help of some important free-agent signings.

Congratulations, the Bengals finally took advantage of the NFL’s inherent parity structure and put together a fine team, led by offensive skill-position players that would quickly become the envy of the league. But would the Bengals do anything with this obviously stacked roster?

Yes, the Bengals captured the AFC North title with a 10-7 record in 2021 before winning three games in the postseason en route to an appearance in Super Bowl LVI; after putting up a valiant fight, Cincinnati would lose a de facto road game to the Rams at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Cincinnati was close to yet another Super Bowl appearance in 2022 before falling to the Chiefs on a last-second field goal in the AFC title game at Arrowhead Stadium.

So, Burrow’s career arc up to this point has included a season-ending injury, a Super Bowl appearance and a conference championship game appearance. In other words, Burrow has been fully healthy for two of his three seasons, and in those seasons, he’s lifted the Bengals to heights they haven’t seen in decades.

Burrow just has that “it” factor you see in particular quarterbacks. You might say that the guy Burrow has to go through— Patrick Mahomes— also has that certain “it” factor only true golden boy quarterbacks possess. Mahomes has taken his team to the AFC title game five-straight years and to the Super Bowl three of the past four. Mahomes has led the Chiefs to two Super Bowl victories since 2019 where he was voted MVP each time. Mahomes is also a two-time NFL MVP (2018 and 2022).

In other words, Mahomes is THE MAN, and in order to be THE MAN, you have to beat THE MAN. Burrow has already done that. The Bengals defeated Kansas City three-straight times before that last-second loss in the AFC title game at Arrowhead Stadium this past January 29th. Speaking of the AFC Championship Game, one of those victories for Cincinnati came in overtime against the Chiefs the year before in that very-same game and in the very same venue.

If Mahomes has a Kryptonite, it’s Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Back to the Bengals and their roster.

It’s hard to find a more complete team in the NFL. The Bengals have perhaps the best receiver in the NFL in Ja’Marr Chase, who is complemented quite nicely by Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Joe Mixon is a damn fine running back, and it looks like the Bengals have finally put together a decent offensive line.

The Bengals also have a fine defense that is strong at every level, or at least it was. Unfortunately, Cincinnati lost perhaps the best safety duo in the NFL when both Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III departed as free agents this past offseason.

The Bengals’ other free-agent defections include tight end Hayden Hurst and backup running back, Samaje Perine. But that’s life in the NFL. It’s hard to have a complete roster, and if you do, it’s hard to keep it that way for very long.

The Bengals still have the kind of roster to win it all. Furthermore, the clock is ticking for them to do so. Burrow is entering his fourth year, and there probably isn’t a better quarterback in the NFL, this side of Mahomes.

Burrow is going to get paid a huge contract by the Bengals— probably the biggest in the history of the league— the only question is when? Even if it’s as soon as this preseason, despite Burrow’s calf injury keeping him out of action for the time being, it likely won’t affect Cincinnati’s salary cap in 2023 but it could be a problem in subsequent years. How do you pay Chase, Higgins, and some of those important players on defense?

The time is now for the Bengals. Why? Because they are lucky enough to have a Joe at quarterback.

  • The Jets had Joe Namath in the ’60s, and Broadway Joe led New York to a Super Bowl title in his fourth season.
  • The 49ers drafted Joe Montana in 1979, and Joe Cool led San Fransisco to a Lombardi trophy in his third season.

The Bengals now have Burrow in the 2020s, and Joe Brrr seems destined for a ring of his own as he enters his fourth NFL campaign. The oddsmakers also agree as Cincinnati is +1000 to win it all, according to Vegas. 

Burrow has the kind of “it” factor that the likes of Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson appear to be lacking. Aaron Rodgers has had his moment in the sun. Justin Herbert may be THE MAN one day, but that day isn’t now. Russell Wilson may be finished as a top player at his position.

I don’t know much, but I know NFL history, and it seems like Burrow and the Bengals have a date with destiny next February at Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada.

It’s time for Joe Burrow to be THE MAN.

 

 

 

 

 

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