Can the Bengals pull it off?


When Zac Taylor became the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, a rebuild was inevitable. Taylor replaced Marvin Lewis after 15 seasons and zero playoff wins. Cincy was tired of mediocrity and wanted to compete. However this would have to wait. In Taylor’s first season the Bengals went 2-14 and now had the number one overall draft pick.

Zac Taylor being introduced as Bengals head coach.

Despite a disappointing first season the city had something to look forward to. The number one draft pick allowed Taylor to draft Joe Burrow. Burrow had just come off a record setting season at LSU, where he won the Heisman Trophy, and a National Championship. Burrow seemed to be the obvious choice, but fans were still worried that ownership would screw it up and take Justin Herbert. The Bengals ended up drafting Burrow, and the rest is history.

Burrow’s rookie year looked to be going very well, despite a poor record. The Bengals were losing games on last second scores, but the franchise QB was playing great. However, the Bengals weak offensive line caused some to worry. In week 11 of his rookie year Burrow would go down, and stay down. He ended up tearing his ACL, MCL, and meniscus. The season went down the drain and the Bengals ended 2020 with a 4-11-1 record.

Joe Burrow after injury

After making the playoffs this season and defeating the Raiders, Titans, and Chiefs, the Bengals now face a tough opponent, as they face off against the L.A. Rams, in the Super Bowl. The Rams defensive attack includes Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd, Von Miller, and Jalen Ramsey. Historically Cincinnati’s offensive line has not faired well, giving up nine sacks against the Titans, who have a far less talented defensive line than the Rams. Aaron Donald has recorded 12.5 sacks this season, while Miller and Floyd each have 9.5 . Cincinnati’s offensive lineman will undoubtedly have their hands full.

The Bengals have been going back and forth between Jackson Carman, and Hakeem Adeniji at right guard this postseason, with this position being their weakest link. Donald will be lining up over one of them, meaning they will almost always be required to double team Donald. However, the Bengals have a good matchup with their best offensive lineman, Jonah Williams set to face off with Von Miller.

The Rams also have one of the best corners in the league, in Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey held Davante Adams to 41 yards when the Rams and Packers faced off this year. Ramsey guarding Jamarr Chase will undoubtedly be one of the best matchups of the entire season.

The key for the Cincinnati offense will be letting Joe Burrow be Joe Burrow. When the ball is in Burrow’s hands, good things happen. Cincy can’t expect to win with a conservative offense, Coach Taylor is going to have to trust Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, Jamarr Chase, and Joe Burrow to make big plays like they have done all season.

On the defensive side the Bengals will be tasked with shutting down the connection between Mathew Stafford, and Cooper Kupp. Kupp led the league in receiving yards during the regular season. This passing attack became more lethal once Odell Beckham Jr. was added to the team midway through the season.

Cooper Kupp hauling in a 44 yard catch as the clock runs down to set up a game winning field goal in the divisional round.

Luckily Cincy has some great lockdown corners, in Chidobe Awuzie, and Mike Hilton. D.J. Reader, B.J. Hill, Trey Hendrickson, and Sam Hubbard have played great on the defensive line all season, and look to disrupt Stafford’s connection by putting pressure on him early and often.

Cincinnati has been on a truly magical run this season, and it all revolves around C.J. Uzomah’s saying of “Why not us?” The city has taken this saying and ran with it. Shirts have been made, billboards have gone up, and hope has grown. The 31 year curse was broken when the Bengals defeated the Raiders in the first round, and another curse was broken when they got their first road playoff win against the Titans. Making this thought of “why not us?” a reality.

The 2021 Bengals seem to be a special team. Joe Burrow seemingly always creates a play, and just finds a way to win. However, the question has been raised, can the Bengals pull off one more win on the biggest stage? They can, and they will.

While Los Angeles has arguably the leagues best defensive line, Cincinnati has the weapons to successfully defeat this attack. Brian Callahan, the Bengals offensive coordinator, has shown how perfectly the team can execute crossing routes, and flat routes. These allow for short fast throws that pickup five or more yards every play. Given the Bengals wide receiver core, these routes are truly unable to be stopped, even with Jalen Ramsey guarding Jamarr Chase.

On the defensive side, Cincinnati has the weapons to keep up with the Rams deep threat opportunity. Jessie Bates is an elite safety who can keep the Stafford to Kupp connection from getting too out of hand.

Overall, Cincinnati has been blessed with the addition of Joe Burrow and has an amazing opportunity to bring winning back to the city. The offensive attack of Burrow, Boyd, Chase, Higgins, and Mixon allows the Bengals to run an elite offense through almost any formation. While the Rams defense is one of the best in the league, it will always be hard to stop Joe Burrow. Cincinnati’s defense features some great lineman who would have a field day in the Rams back field, while their defensive backs look to prevent the pass game from gaining any momentum.