The Cincinnati Bengals hope this year is another trip to the Super Bowl, this time with different results at the very end of the journey.
That’s something that happens in a handful of the latest wave of predictions over at Sports Illustrated, where two of the experts asked to predict the entire playoff bracket say Cincinnati will end up hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
For Albert Breer, the edge given to the Bengals by their sheer anger at the NFL’s one-time rule change after the Week 17 no-contest is something he thinks could propel them to win it all:
“Truth is, I wanted to stick with my preseason prediction and have the Bills get their storybook ending to an impossibly difficult season. But just based on how I’ve seen the Bengals play down the stretch, and the fact that they’re coming into this thing with a pretty serious edge, my head’s telling me to go with Zac Taylor’s crew. And that’s largely because they’re probably second in front-line talent in the playoffs, and second only to the team I see them meeting in a rematch of Super Bowls XVI and XXIII.”
And if that wasn’t fun enough to read, Conor Orr offers up an eye-popping take on Joe Burrow while predicting the Bengals win it all:
“I think this is the year we realize that Joe Burrow is, psychologically, something of a superhuman. We tried to tell you about that in the football preview issue of the magazine, but I think this is the year where everyone realizes that this is going to be something of a Peyton Manning/Drew Brees/Ben Roethlisberger scenario. The Bengals are going to be in it so long as Burrow is there. This year, they’ll take the title.”
For what it’s worth, another expert has the Bengals making the Super Bowl but losing again.
The love is a testament to how quietly good the Bengals have played down the stretch, winning eight in a row with a good defense, strong cast of weapons and — most important of all in this league — an elite quarterback.
And of course, the most popular notion is onlookers get to see another Bengals-49ers Super Bowl.