Following the loss, there were two clear sides of the spectrum.
On one side, we have the “This is a young team, they’ll be back!” crowd. On the other side, we have the “That was their chance and they blew it” crowd.
Let’s explore both of those sides, shall we?
Optimistic viewpoint for Bengals
There’s a lot to like about the Cincinnati Bengals moving forward.
First and foremost, this team is young and under contract.
Joe Burrow is only two years into his career. Ja’Marr Chase is one year into his career. Tee Higgins is two years in, as is Logan Wilson. Even the more experienced guys like Tyler Boyd, Joe Mixon, Trey Hendrickson, and Sam Hubbard are 27 or younger.
Secondly, the Bengals have plenty of dough to spend to shore up their weaknesses. This isn’t typical for a team that is coming off of a Super Bowl appearance, as usually, they spent a ton of money to get to that point.
Third, the team has now made it to the biggest game and they know what it takes to get there. That’s huge for a young team moving forward.
Oh, and the biggest point of optimism here is that the Bengals have their quarterback. Joe Burrow took the team to the Super Bowl in just his second year under center and that’s something that doesn’t happen often in the NFL.
Having a good quarterback is the first step in becoming a good team and the Bengals have that guy. Now they have to put a good offensive line in front of him so that he can shine even more as he progresses into his career.
Pessimistic viewpoint for Bengals
Fans might not want to hear this but it’s not guaranteed for teams to make it back to the Super Bowl at some point, even as good as their quarterback is. You’re going to hear a lot of Dan Marino talk over the next year and potentially for longer if Burrow doesn’t get to the big game and win a ring with Cincinnati.
Marino isn’t the only quarterback who we expected more from in the Super Bowl department. Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson are just a few other quarterbacks we expected to win more than just a single Super Bowl and Brees and Rodgers have never even been back since they won their titles over a decade ago (Brees, of course, retired).
Making the Super Bowl is hard. It’s why we haven’t had a back-to-back champion since the Patriots did it in 2003/2004. Not only that but the Bengals play in one of the toughest divisions in the league and the Ravens are going to be a much tougher team in 2022. You can also never rule out the Steelers to be a sneaky team.
The AFC is only getting tougher as well. The Chiefs and Bills are currently co-favorites for Super Bowl LVII and they’re both in the AFC. Yes, the Bengals got past the Chiefs twice this past season but that’s a team that always is in contention and they know how to get to that point every year.
While I’d love to assume the Bengals will be back in this same spot next year (only with the right result taking place), we have to look at both sides of the spectrum here. The fact of the matter is that it’s hard to win a Super Bowl and while the Bengals were a great team in 2021, an argument could be made that they overachieved this year.
Which side of the spectrum do you fall on?