1. Find ways to win close games
The Cincinnati Bengals season was filled with drama-driven games and down-to-the-wire outcomes. In the regular season, the Bengals had three overtime games where they went just 1-2.
However, they won three games off made field goals as the time expired, and in the postseason, they won two games off game-winning kicks. If you combine the postseason and the regular season, the Bengals had four overtime matchups where they went 2-2 and had five games where they won off a game-winning field goal from Evan McPherson. The Bengals won their three postseason games by a total of 13 points.
Great teams find ways to win close games and ugly games. The Tennessee Titans game was an ugly game on the road that the Bengals had no reason to keep close with how the game was unfolding. Many would’ve thought it was a blowout if you just checked the box score.
Burrow getting sacked nine times in the game was a record but clutch kicks from McPherson and extremely strong defensive play from the secondary and the defensive front led the way. Burrow made some big throws, and Mixon had some big runs, but overall, the Titans made that game ugly, and finding a way to win that one on the road was extremely impressive.
Suppose Cincinnati finds themselves in the number of close games that they were in this year and can find ways to grind out wins from all different aspects and contributions. In that case, they can be in a similar position where they get into the playoffs and compete for a Super Bowl, but they must win the games they are expected to win, and they need things to swing in their direction.
In any sport, to win a championship, you need a tad bit of luck; you need the chips to fall in your favor, but more than luck is preparation, skill, and finding ways to win from different viewpoints.
The Bengals won games because of their defense, offense, and even won games based on excellent coaching and special teams play. That is precisely the recipe Cincinnati needs to be a Super Bowl contender and get back to the playoffs in 2022.