5 reasons why the Bengals can win the Super Bowl

The Cincinnati Bengals hope this year’s trip to the playoffs is a repeat trip of the Super Bowl trip from a year ago, albeit with a much different result.

While much of a Super Bowl run is merely luck and getting hot at the right time, the Bengals do boast some specifics that give them a serious chance at hoisting the Lombardi Trophy by the end — and the same can’t be said for every playoff team.

It starts with the quarterback, of course, but other details ranging from the foundation of the program to specific units help this idea all come together.

Here are a handful of reasons the Bengals are Super Bowl material again.

The defense

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Lou Anarumo’s defense is elite once again. It boasts at least one elite player at all three levels and is malleable, capable of shifting the approach on a week-to-week basis to any opponent. That would explain the unit allowing just 20.1 points per game on average and the lowest completion rate and passer rating in the league, among other notables.

Impressively, the unit has suffered notable losses such as Chidobe Awuzie and names like DJ Reader have missed time. Trey Hendrickson continues to play with a broken wrist. It won’t always be perfect, but the unit that helped create a Super Bowl push last year is much the same.

Depth

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How many key players have surprised while stepping up this year, starting all the way back in September? Cal Adomitis, Drue Chrisman, Trenton Irwin, Tre Flowers, Cam Taylor-Britt, Jay Tufele. It goes on and on. The team will now need the same trend to continue on the offensive line with Max Scharping and Hakeem Adeniji, but they’re in those spots for a reason and the trend so far has been encouraging.

Momentum, the path and past experience

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Few teams are hotter than the Bengals. They’ve won eight in a row, again turning it on in the winter and having yet to ease up. In the opening round they’ll be at home before likely going to Buffalo. While that’s a tough matchup, it appears like a favorable one. And likely going to Kansas City isn’t as intimidating as it should be given they went 3-0 against the Chiefs in 2022. The path isn’t necessarily as friendly as it could be, but it’s also probably not as bad as it seems at first glance — and they know what it takes thanks to last year’s run.

The coaching and culture

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Detractors will roll their eyes at this one. But there’s something to be said for the Zac Taylor regime’s constant push for former captains and winners from other programs, college or pros. It has transformed the locker room and attitude and the team doesn’t really blink in adversity — it’s come a long way from the finger-pointing days when things would go wrong.

And the coaching, for the most part, has been fantastic down the stretch. Offensive coaches, besides the vanilla season finale, have been putting on a clinic when it comes to scheming guys open. Anarumo, as always, is as adaptable and adjustable as ever. It’s the sort of edge a team must have in combination with the culture factor if they want a real shot at winning it all.

Joe Burrow

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Teams aren’t getting far without a top-eight or so passer these days and in Joe Burrow the Bengals have a potential top three. He’s done nothing but improve every year, whether it’s using his ACL rehab as a way to tweak his throwing motion at the same time or even overcoming the burst appendix. He’s cerebral too, adjusting to what defenses do quite well. This year he’s completed 68.3 percent of his passes with 4,475 yards and 35 touchdowns against 12 interceptions over 16 games. He’s had key rushes consistently too, rushing for 27 first downs and five touchdowns.

Burrow’s job isn’t going to be easy this postseason either, not after two of the four upgrades to the offensive line have to sit out with injuries. He’s deserving of the MVP whispers though and if he can counteract each defense well — if not catch fire — the Bengals have a great shot at going on another postseason tear.

Story originally appeared on Bengals Wire