What's next for the Bengals following heartbreaking Super Bowl defeat?
Was it just another heartbreaker for a snake-bitten franchise, or a minor stumbling block on the road to a dynasty? That’s what Cincinnati Bengals fans are asking themselves after a 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI.
The Bengals’ Cinderella season ended without a championship in a narrow 23-20 defeat, in which they had the lead late and lost it. But now they must turn their attention to the 2022 campaign, where oddsmakers are once again expecting an uphill climb for Cincinnati.
NFL Championship 2022/2023
Sun, February 12 2023, 11:30 PM
Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Rams
Green Bay Packers
San Francisco 49ers
Los Angeles Chargers
Bengals open as Super Bowl LVII sixth-choice
Oddsmakers are anticipating the Bengals (+1400) falling short to both the Buffalo Bills (+800) and the Kansas City Chiefs (+900) in 2022. Those teams, of course, went head-to-head in an instant-classic Divisional Round game this year. If things “chalk out," then Cincinnati may have to go through both clubs, and not just one of them, to get back to the promised land.
The Bengals also rank behind three NFC teams, namely the Rams (+1100), Green Bay Packers (+1300), and San Francisco 49ers (+1300), in the early betting for Super Bowl LVII.
Organizing offseason priorities
The Bengals’ top priority in terms of re-signing their own free agents might be safety Jessie Bates III, who had a key interception during Super Bowl LVI. Cincinnati attempted to extend Bates before, but no deal has been reached. He could receive the Bengals’ franchise tag.
Cincinnati will also face decisions on the much-maligned Eli Apple, as well as Vernon Hargreaves and Tre Flowers in the secondary, and Larry Ogunjobi and B.J. Hill on the defensive line.
One offense, fan favorite tight end C.J. Uzomah and lineman Quinton Spain are upcoming free agents.
Why not the Bengals again?
The Bengals are set to bring back the vast majority of their key personnel next season, starting with Comeback Player of the Year Joe Burrow and Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase. Running back Joe Mixon will remain in the fold as well.
On defense, Trey Hendrickson, Vonn Bell, Chidobe Awuzie, and Logan Wilson are all still under contract. As for head coach Zac Taylor, age 38, a much-deserved contract extension appears to be in the works.
This team is both young and talented, which is always a recipe for success in the NFL.
If not the Bengals, then who (dey)?
Though Cincinnati clearly has its strengths, its weaknesses are also quite glaring, starting with a porous offensive line that allowed the most sacks in the NFL in 2021. Relying on Apple as an every-down player backfired too.
If you want an alternative to the Bengals in the AFC, then the favored Bills might be your best bet. In addition to having one of the best quarterback-wide receiver tandems in the league in Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, they also have defensive standouts like Micah Hyde and Tre’Davious White on the roster.