The Cincinnati Bengals are Super Bowl contenders in 2023. Anything other than a Super Bowl appearance would be a disappointment for this team this upcoming season.
That being said, things don't always go as planned. Just ask the Buffalo Bills, as they entered last season as the betting favorites to win the Super Bowl and didn't end up getting to the AFC title game.
If the Bengals end up not meeting their expectations in 2023, who or what would be the scapegoats? A scapegoat, for those who don't know, is defined as "a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others, especially for reasons of expediency", per Oxford Languages.
So, if things don't go the way Bengals fans are hoping for this year, who would be to blame?
4. Pass Rush
After turning their pass-rush into a scarier unit in 2021, the group took a huge step backward in 2022, finishing in the bottom-five of the league in sacks. Aside from Trey Hendrickson, the team just didn't have as much juice in that department.
Hendrickson himself had a down year, posting 8.0 sacks after notching 14.0 the year before. Sam Hubbard was second in sacks this past season with 6.5 but after that, the most sacks dropped to 3.5 from Joseph Ossai.
The Bengals spent a first-round pick on Myles Murphy in this year's draft with the expectations that their pass rush would improve. If it doesn't and the team fails to bring the opposing quarterback down in the key moments of a playoff game, the pass rush will be blamed for not achieving the ultimate goal of raising the Lombardi Trophy.