Bengals’ timeline may finally produce a Super Bowl

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 20: Shaun Draughn
SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 20: Shaun Draughn /

After a disappointing season, the Cincinnati Bengals are poised for a comeback. Looking at the history of their playoff berths, 2017 will be interesting.

It’s always easy to talk about the Cincinnati Bengals in terms of ‘what if.’ That’s what fans and casual onlookers have been doing for almost 50 years. Whenever things begin to go right for the Men in Stripes, there’s always an obstacle lurking around the corner to halt the festivities. But, the Bengals may be turning things around. The possibility of returning to the Super Bowl is on the horizon.

Before you have papers drawn up to have me committed, look at the timeline of how the Bengals have done things. Since Marvin Lewis has been in charge of the troops, there have been three bounceback years. Each time Cincinnati had a disastrous year, it was followed by a trip to the playoffs. Whether it was from Lewis’ coaching (huh?) or the football gods bestowing grace, the Stripes were able to save face.

Going back even further, the 1981 season was a comeback year for Cincy. When Forrest Gregg was named head coach, his first year was a 6-10 clunker. But, the 1981 squad posted a 12-4 record and shocked the NFL with a trip to Super Bowl XVI.  The Bengals played one of the most entertaining games in the history of the event.

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Who was that mad scientist guy who talked about not living in Cleveland? The wacky Sam Wyche was able to provide the Bengals with two turnaround seasons. His biggest contribution being Super Bowl XXIII. Both Wyche and Gregg had a similar foe working against them. The 1987 team was decimated by the NFLPA strike. If this version of the Orange & Black was able to play, the Bengals may have had back-to-back appearances in the Big Dance.

Gregg was hampered by a strike shortened season in 1982. The 16-game schedule was shortened to nine games. The AFC and NFC had no divisions and the top eight teams from each conference qualified for postseason play. It was a total mess. But, the Bengals were able to go 7-2 and reach the playoffs. Essentially, Gregg had another shot at the Super Bowl jacked up when his Bengals lost 44-17 to the Jets in the postseason.

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The Here And Now

After finishing at 6-9-1 last year, the Bengals have reloaded and look ready for battle. O-line woes aside, the 2017 version of the Stripes looks like an offensive juggernaut. The addition of raw speed and power is enough to make some analysts give Cincinnati a chance to get past that first round.

If the Bengals defy Vegas odds, the curse of Bo Jackson and lack of hometown support, the 2017 campaign could be an interesting ride. But, above all, Cincinnati will make back to the postseason. Lewis’ coaching career is on the line and the player’s integrity is at stake. They want to support Marvelous Marv. It all factors in to set up one heck of a show.