VIDEO: How close are the Cincinnati Bengals to winning a Super Bowl?

In this week’s episode of “4-Down Territory,” powered by KIA, Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar and Luke Easterling of Bucs Wire and Draft Wire discuss how close the Cincinnati Bengals are to winning the first Super Bowl in franchise history.

The Bengals have seen their last two seasons end with a three-point loss to the Rams in Super Bowl 56, and a three-point loss in this AFC Championship. It’s like the Bengals of the 1980s, in which they lost two close Super Bowls to the Bill Walsh 49ers. Great teams, but they kept missing it by that much. What do the Bengals need to do to push this thing over the top next season? 

Doug: I honestly don’t think they need to do that much. Joe Burrow has been saying for months that the 2022 Bengals are a better team than the 2021 Bengals that made the Super Bowl, and he’s absolutely correct. They went from 17th to fifth in overall DVOA, 18th to fourth in Offensive DVOA, and 19th to 11th in Defensive DVOA. They were sporting a 10-game winning streak, and not a lot of flukes in there. Last season, this was a surprise. This season, we all expected the Bengals to be here. I would focus on the offensive line, because even with multiple additions last offseason, they can still upgrade. 

I would look specifically at left tackle Jonah Williams, who will be on the final year of his rookie contract next season. He allowed 13 sacks and 45 pressures in 2022 on 748 pass-blocking snaps. Maybe some reinforcements in the secondary as well. You wonder – had Chidobie Awuzie, their best cornerback, not been lost since Week 8 with a torn ACL, do we have a different result in this game? Other than that, a relatively healthy Bengals team should be expected to be right back in the hunt next season and beyond.

Oh. Maybe don’t ever single-team Chris Jones? Doing that seems like a bad idea. 

Luke: Yeah, I think it’s really just the offensive line. At full strength, I think the one they have might have been enough, but that’s where a lack of quality depth can bite you. This is still one of the best teams in the league on both sides of the ball, and I think perhaps their biggest concern might be if defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo gets a head coaching gig somewhere else this offseason.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire