The Cincinnati Bengals have a chance to play spoiler pretty frequently in 2021 because not many people are banking them to be all that competitive. Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report, however, believes that the Bengals are what he refers to as the ‘AFC’s sleeping giant’.
What Gagnon means by this is that the Bengals are being underlooked and underappreciated throughout the offseason. This isn’t surprising considering how stacked the rest of the division is and if one team has to be the worst in the AFC North, most are going to point to the Bengals as that team.
Here are some of the blurbs from Gagnon’s article that back up his thoughts on how sneaky the Bengals could be this year:
"Their record didn’t show it then or at the end of the season, but the Burrow-led Bengals were often respectable in 2020.Now, Burrow’s healthy again."
This follows a segment where Gagnon mentions how the Bengals were competitive with Joe Burrow at the helm, losing games by one score. He, of course, discusses how Burrow is healthy and ready to go, which is the reason the Bengals are getting any hype at all.
Burrow is the reason most people are buying into the Bengals at least in some facet this year. He put up impressive numbers despite not having an offensive line and always having to put up points due to the less than stellar efforts by the defense.
"He did exactly that with limited support from a weak offensive line and a pass-catching corps in transition in 2020, completing 65.3 percent of his passes while posting a 13-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 10 starts. He also added 142 yards and three scores as a rusher. This even though nearly five percent of the passes he threw were dropped and he was sacked on more than seven percent of his dropbacks, the 10th-highest mark in the league."
The Bengals are a ‘sleeping giant’ according to Bleacher Report.
In one last blurb exploring the Burrow and Bengals hype, Gagnon wrote:
"Speaking of bets, is that enough to take +2000 odds and pick the Bengals to shock the world and win the North? Maybe, maybe not. But keep in mind that the playoff field includes about a handful of surprises every year, that said field has expanded to 14 and that the young Bengals could benefit from that and an extended regular season."
The Bengals are a unique team this year. If they weren’t in one of the toughest divisions and faced with one of the most difficult schedules, more people would be on the Bengals bandwagon for sure because of Joe Burrow and the hype that surrounds him.
Unfortunately, the Bengals are in the AFC North and have a tough schedule. Plus they won just four games last year and two games the previous year. Zac Taylor has to win more than six games this year if he wants to stay in Cincinnati and while that’ll be a tall task, it won’t be impossible by any means.
The Bengals could certainly benefit from the added playoff team and maybe if a few teams that are supposed to be good slip up, Cincinnati can sneak in as a Wild Card and make some kind of late-season magic happen. Bengals fans are starved for any kind of playoff success and while that might not come this year, Cincinnati could certainly make things interesting this year.