(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
How quickly things can change in the NFL. In 2019, the Bengals finished the season 2-14 and now two seasons later they find themselves playing in the Super Bowl against the Rams. The selection of Joe Burrow at No. 1 overall in 2020 has really turned around the franchise. On top of that, the Bengals paired Burrow with fellow LSU teammate wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase after picking him at No. 6 overall in 2021. Chase has had an exceptional rookie season and he'll without a doubt be named Offensive Rookie of the Year.
According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, the Bengals joined the 1981 49ers and 2003 Panthers to go from the worst record in the NFL to the Super Bowl in just two seasons.
In addition, ￼the Bengals’ season-opening odds to win the Super Bowl were 125-to-1. Cincinnati is the biggest long shot to reach the Super Bowl since the 1999 St. Louis Rams (150-1), per ESPN Stats & Info.
Along with drafting well, the Bengals also have spent a ton of money on their defensive line, with defensive end Trey Hendrickson being the biggest addition. They also went out and signed former Steelers slot cornerback Mike Hilton, who continues to be a playmaker in Cincinnati. The Bengals also have an impressive safety duo in Vonn Bell and Jesse Bates III.
Led by a young star quarterback in Burrow and a solid supporting cast, it appears that the Bengals will be the class of the AFC North for at least the next decade. And with the Steelers trying to figure out life after Ben Roethlisberger, former Bengal Pacman Jones doesn't even see the Steelers on the Bengals radar right now.
“They just got rid of Big Ben,” Jones said on 93.7 The Fan on Monday. “Only people on our radar right now truthfully is the Ravens because they on and off, they defense needs to be a little better and keep the quarterback healthy through the playoffs, that’s the only thing about it, [Lamar Jackson] hasn’t been healthy through the playoffs.”
As far as Baker Mayfield and the Browns, Jones thinks they are worse off than the Steelers and hopes the Browns sign Mayfield to a five-year deal.
The Browns completely fell off after their wild-card win over the Steelers last year. And Mayfield's future with the team is very much in doubt after a poor 2021 campaign. Basically what the Bengals are doing right now, is what the Browns envisioned. But Mayfield is not on the same level as Burrow.
I mean, Burrow led the Bengals to the Super Bowl in his first full season. He suffered an ACL injury in Week 11 of his rookie season. The Steelers and the rest of the division are going to have their hands full with Burrow for the next decade-plus.