What the Cincinnati Bengals Have to Do to Win the Super Bowl

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It has been a magical run for the Cincinnati Bengals, and “Who Dat Nation” is hoping it doesn’t end any time soon. Arguably the most exciting team still in this postseason, Cincinnati is an absolute wild card with the longest odds of remaining teams at +1500 to win Super Bowl LVI at the DraftKings Sportsbook.

“Cool” Joe Burrow is a leading candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, while his college teammate Ja’Marr Chase surely has Offensive Rookie of the Year on lock. With the “Curse of Bo Jackson” exorcised last weekend, how far can the Bengals ride their fortunes? If it’s going to be all the way to Los Angeles in February, there are three key factors that they need to focus on in the coming weeks.

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1) Keep Burrow Safe

The Bengals don’t know what they are without Chase, but they sure know what they are without Burrow. With the former first-overall selection on the field last season, the team played a lot of close games against a first-half schedule that was mostly made of teams that made the playoffs last year or this year. Without Burrow in the final six weeks, they hardly had a prayer. He missed the time, of course, because he suffered a torn ACL and MCL after being sacked inside the pocket against the Washington Football Team in 2020.

Burrow has been under constant assault due to the porous makeup of his offensive line throughout his first two seasons. He led all quarterbacks this year with 51 sacks. That’s not a list a player wants to be at the top of. Burrow’s success this season is more impressive when considering the harassment he’s overcome before delivering the ball. The Tennessee Titans ranked seventh with 47 sacks on defense this year and are chomping at the bit to get to Burrow. If the Bengals can’t keep him in the game their long odds for a championship have absolutely no chance. Brandon Allen to Chase, Tee Higgins, or Tyler Boyd doesn’t carry the same confidence.

If you like the Bengals to the Super Bowl, it surely means that Burrow gets them there. Right now, he is drawing +1600 at the DraftKings Sportsbook to win MVP honors at the big game.

2) Money From McPherson

The Bengals benefited this season from playing against some stiff competition in the Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, and the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately, Cincinnati was just 1-2 in those games, with both losses coming in overtime. One of the consistencies between those losses was they both were rough outings for rookie kicker Evan McPherson. In the loss to the Packers, he missed both of his field-goal attempts. Against San Francisco, he missed one of four. Against the top teams in the NFL, a young team like the Bengals can’t afford those slip-ups.

McPherson won’t be graded against just himself, but in the playoffs will be pitted against some of the best kickers in the game. Green Bay’s Mason Crosby and Los Angeles’ Matt Gay are two marksmen in the NFC, should Cincinnati advance that far. Randy Bullock and Harrison Butker are two more likely immediate adversaries on the AFC side first.

3) Hold Teams Under 100 Yards Rushing

Cincinnati was 6-3 this season when holding their opponents at or under 100 yards on the ground. Last week, they held Josh Jacobs and the Las Vegas Raiders to just 83 total rushing yards. It was instrumental in getting the win. Tennessee is a run-first team With Derrick Henry coming back for the Titans. Cincinnati’s run defense is going to be tested in the second round. Should they advance, the Bills seem to have some momentum with Devin Singletary in the backfield. Not to mention, Jerick McKinnon ran wild for the Chiefs against the Steelers.

Losing Larry Ogunjobi at defensive tackle in the Raiders game could have a major impact on the Bengals’ postseason prospects. The best way to play against Cincinnati is to not let Burrow and Chase have the ball. That’s done with clock control on the ground. The Bengals just need someone to step up and fill the massive void left in the middle and prevent their opponents from gaining first downs.

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