The Bengals are here: Cincinnati has emerged as a Super Bowl contender

Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The 5-2 Cincinnati Bengals are the number one seed in the AFC through seven weeks of the season after their 41-17 shellacking of the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Not only first seed in the AFC North but in the entire American Football Conference.

Going into the season, one would have called you crazy to predict such a start to the season for Joe Burrow and the Bengals. In a conference with teams like the Chiefs, Bills, and Titans, or divisional rivals like the Steelers, Browns, and Ravens, you would have struggled to find anyone who predicted this, even among the most optimistic Bengals’ fans out there.

Yet, here we are. The Bengals ARE the top seed in the AFC heading into Week 8.

Ja’Marr Chase IS the clear frontrunner for Offensive Rookie of the Year. The defense IS one of the best units in the league. And of course, Joe Burrow IS an elite quarterback and is currently on pace to destroy just about every single-season franchise passing record in the books.

After two years of disaster, head coach Zac Taylor has moved from a hot seat to a throne. Despite coming into the season as a Vegas-favorite to be the first head coach fired in the NFL, Taylor’s team now sits at the top of their division, the Bengals may just be the new “Kings in the North.”

If their 2-0 start against division rivals wasn’t impressive enough at face value, consider the fact that they’ve done so on the road, handling both the Steelers and Ravens on their own turf and winning by double digits in each contest. With the injured Browns stumbling their way to a 4-3 record, the Bengals have taken the reigns as the team to beat in the division.

However, it takes more than a divisional title to contend for a Super Bowl. Just look at recent Bengals teams that won the division, the 2013 and 2015 squads were both bounced in the Wildcard Round by vastly inferior teams. The Bengals still have one big monkey to get off of their back: winning a playoff game. Until they do so, the national narrative won’t shift.

That being said, this is the Bengals team that is equipped to do just that, and they shouldn’t set their sights on just one playoff win either.

The old saying that “defense wins championships” has become somewhat antiquated over the years as offense has begun to rule the league, but it would be remiss of me not to start with Lou Anarumo’s squad.

Despite many calling for the defensive coordinator’s head in the offseason, Taylor stuck with his guy and he has not disappointed. The Bengals rank top ten in multiple defensive categories, and the numbers alone don’t do it justice, as the defense has shut down two elite quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson for the most part.

The offense is where the real championship potential lies, though. In his second year as the Bengals’ quarterback, Burrow has been as he was advertised coming out of college — Accurate, poised, and ballsy. Time and time again, the second-year signal caller has shown that he won’t flinch in big moments.

Whether it was his 32-yard pass to C.J. Uzomah on fourth down to get into game-winning field goal territory against the Vikings, or putting the team on his back in the second half to come back against the Jaguars or throwing a career-high of 416 yards in a big-time win over the Ravens, Burrow has shown up repeatedly when it matters most.

Helping Burrow along the way has been his elite supporting cast. Rookie wide receiver Chase needs no introduction, as he has already set the league and fire and looks to be the surefire Offensive Rookie of the Year and potential All-Pro in just his first season.

Not to hide in the shadow of Chase, though, are wide receivers, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Alongside a top-ten running back in Joe Mixon and an emerging veteran tight end in Uzomah, and the Bengals may just have the most firepower in the league.

This offense and its elite firepower are why the Bengals are such a dangerous team, and why they are absolutely a Super Bowl contender. Taylor’s offense, led by Burrow and his weapons, can put up the points to keep up with any team on any given Sunday, or even destroy any team on any given Sunday as we saw against the Ravens.

While it might sound crazy to go from the fifth overall pick to the Super Bowl, the Bengals have already made crazy things happen seven weeks into the season. They’re by no means frontrunners yet, but it’s time to start talking about the Bengals as what they are: Super Bowl contenders.

Next. Winners and Losers from Week 7. dark

The Bengals have arrived, and they are only going up from here.