Entering the AFC Championship Game, the Cincinnati Bengals and their fans were already talking as if they had won the game and advanced to the Super Bowl. Yes, I know that the entire team and entire fan base weren't thinking along these lines, but you have to admit that once Patrick Mahomes got injured in the AFC Divisional game against the Jaguars, a second straight trip to the Super Bowl seemed just within reach.
Look, Bengals fans had a right to be cocky entering this game. They had won three straight games against the Chiefs, including last year's AFC title game, and were riding a 10-game win streak overall. They edged out the Ravens in the Wild Card game thanks to a Sam Hubbard fumble return for a touchdown and blasted the Bills in Buffalo to reach their second straight AFC Championship appearance.
That's when the confidence started to rub outsiders the wrong way. While a fair share of people have grown tired of seeing the Chiefs in this spot every year, those same people weren't exactly bummed when the Bengals lost because of how cocky they had been ahead of this game.
Bengals might have needed a slice of humble pie
I'll be honest -- I really thought this was the Bengals' year. They overachieved in 2021 so it felt like this year, they'd get back to where they were a season ago because they had a better team this time around. The ball didn't end up bouncing their way though and that's why winning a Super Bowl is so hard. You can't predict which way the ball is going to bounce in those key moments.
The Bengals had a lot of motivating factors when entering the postseason and up to this point, they delivered. They took care of business against the Ravens and Bills but couldn't make it a fourth-straight win over Kansas City. Talking trash ahead of the game didn't help their case and even though people seemed to be over the Chiefs, the Bengals hadn't won people over by the time the AFC title game rolled around.
Following the game, many Bengals fans were upset by the amount of trash-talking that Chiefs players were doing, but the fans and the team kind of deserved that with how they were treating the game. People dubbed Arrowhead as "Burrowhead" (which I thought was dumb considering it didn't rhyme and Joe Burrow had only won there once) and apparently had forgotten that Patrick Mahomes was the likely MVP winner.
There's a phrase that goes "f**k around and find out" and that's what happened to the Bengals. I think this is good for the team moving forward though because hopefully they'll focus more on the opponent and not trash-talking.