• Fri. Jan 27th, 2023

By Conrad Clowers

Cincinnati Herald Sportswriter

This past weekend the Bengals continued to prove why they are a threat to be the next World Champions. After getting out to a 22-0 lead on the New England Patriots the team held on to win 22-18. The victory launched Cincinnati to an 11-4 record and a clear shot at the top seed in the AFC. If the team can win its final two games and have Kansas city lose 1, they will host all games in the playoffs.

To do this they will have to defeat a team just as dangerous. The Buffalo Bills currently hold the top seed in the league with a 12-3 record. Buffalo was and is by many the odds on favorite to win the Super Bowl. The top three teams in the AFC are currently Buffalo (12-3), Kansas City (12-3) and Cincinnati (11-4). Both Cincinnati and Buffalo hold the tie breaker over Kansas city, as both teams have defeated the Chiefs.

Despite injuries starting to pile up the Bengals continue to pile on the w’s. This past weekend against the  Patriots, Lae’l Collins was the latest Bengal to suffer a devastating injury. Collins is out for the season tearing multiple ligaments in his knee. Unless something changes Hakeem Adeniji will take over for Collins at the tackle position. Adeniji started last season but was replaced by Collins this season as the starter. While Adeniji was one of the brighter spots on last season’s Bengal offensive line, but the line as a whole performed poorly as QB Joe Borrow was sacked a record number of times in the playoffs and the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately for the Bengals, the injuries are starting to pile up testing starters and depth. Nevertheless, the team continues with an optimistic confident attitude. Head coach Zac Taylor’ bunch  has found a way to win 7 straight games. The record for the Bengal franchise is 8 straight victories. One of the reasons Cincinnati is in the position they are in is because of three players. Quarterback Joe Burrow, wide receiver Jamar chase, and defensive end Trey Hendrickson were all named to the Pro Bowl. Hendrickson, who recently broke his wrist, has not let that stop him. Chase missed several games earlier in the season due to a hip injury. Burrow has been a constant this season and is amongst four or five who’s name has been tossed about as an MVP candidate. 

The best case scenario for Cincinnati in the final 3 games is win both and host the entire run of AFC playoff games. The worst case scenario is loose the final two to Buffalo and Baltimore and settle for a Wild Card berth. Either way Cincinnati has clinched a playoff birth. A standard was set last season. Getting to the playoffs is no longer just enough. When you’ve had a taste of playoff wins and Super Bowls, anything less is a disappointment. Both are the expectation here in 2022.