The Cincinnati Bengals come into the 2022 season as the defending AFC champions.
However, they aren’t getting the same love as the NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams are receiving.
The Rams are a clear favorite to win the NFC.
But some fans and pundits aren’t seeing the Bengals as a team that can repeat an AFC title reign.
Some of this comes from being in the AFC with teams that are now stacked in 2022.
The Chiefs, Bills, Dolphins, and Raiders are some teams floated around as potential AFC champions.
However, there’s three reasons the Bengals should be part of that conversation once again.
3. Bengals Made Improvements To The Offensive Line
While the Bengals won the AFC Championship last season, they didn’t do it with a stellar offensive line.
Their O-line was one of the worst teams in allowing sacks, ranking third last season and allowing 55 sacks.
Joe Burrow ranked seventh in EPA per dropback last season (0.186) and the Bengals were 11th dropback success rate (48.3%) despite playing behind an offensive line that allowed the third most sacks in the league (55).
Cincy's offense could be nuts in 2022 w/ improve OL play. pic.twitter.com/rObZ8XwTLE
— Zachary Krueger (@ZK_FFB) June 6, 2022
However, that line has seen some improvements during the offseason.
Great to see the @Bengals shore up the O-Line via free agency with some Beasts up front.
✅ C Ted Karras
✅ OG Alex Cappa
✅ OT La’el Collins!
— Derek Chancellor (@DPChancellor) March 20, 2022
With Collins taking the role of being Joe Burrow’s bodyguard seriously, their offensive line got a major upgrade.
Him, Cappa, and Karras are just some key reasons that the Bengals should be AFC title favorites in 2022.
2. Their Big Three Offensive Players Are Ready To Go In 2022
With that new offensive line, the big three producers on offense can do their job, and repeat as AFC champions.
Those three players are Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, and Ja’Marr Chase.
Chase is absolutely torching this chiefs secondary. All I heard all week was how well the chiefs defense is playing. All true, but y’all haven’t played an offense like the bengals. Nobody can cover our big three! #WhoDey #Bengals
— Wade Anthony Schultz (@wader22_whodey) January 2, 2022
Burrow impressed many with his return from a rookie season injury that sidelined him for the rest of the 2020 season.
Chase came out looking like he did with Burrow during their time at LSU.
That left Mixon to carry the ball on the ground, racking up 1,205 rushing yards, a career high.
With all three players returning and ready to go in 2022, defenses will have problems stopping them.
However, there’s still one more reason the Bengals should be considered as a favorite to repeat as AFC champions.
1. Bengals Proved They Can Beat The Best Teams In Critical Moments
In the NFL, it’s all about winning those critical games and having clutch moments.
The Bengals offense and defense showed this in games against some of the best AFC teams.
A clutch field goal against the Tennessee Titans launched the Bengals into that AFC Championship Game.
They also defeated the Kansas City Chiefs twice last season after being behind in the first half.
However, even with wins against these teams, people are overlooking the Bengals.
But that is a grave mistake.
When you defeat some of the toughest teams in the AFC, people should take notice.
However, people feel teams like the Chiefs and Bills are better in the AFC.
But that isn’t completely true, when the Bengals hold two wins over Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Forgetting those things that Cincinnati accomplished last season could fuel them to repeat as champions.
That ability to defeat good teams, even after being down early, makes them a threat and should make them favorites to repeat as champions of the AFC.