Support the Bengals

Arjun Maitra, Staff Writer

As much as it hurts to say this, I—a Baltimore Ravens fan—want the Cincinnati Bengals, their divisional rival, to win this year’s Super Bowl. As the Bengals suit up for this Sunday’s contest, I suggest you also join the bandwagon and chant, “Who Dey, Who Dey, Who Dey think gonna beat the Bengals!” Here are three reasons why you should join the tiger tailgate for Super Bowl LVI:

(1) Do it for the Underdogs.

The Bengals’ road to Super Bowl LVI is a classic Cinderella story. To understand how unlikely their run was, we need to rewind.

In the Bengals’ 55-year existence, the team has never won the championship. The last time they went to the big game was in 1988. Up until this season, the Bengals had failed to win a playoff game for 31 years. At the start of this season, many sports analysts projected the Bengals to be at the bottom of the barrel in the NFL because of their atrocious 4-11-1 record in 2020.

Despite the odds, the Bengals won the AFC North this year and made the postseason for the first time since 2015

During the playoffs, the Bengals were a wildcard entry. As the underdogs, they stunned two AFC juggernauts—the Titans and the Chiefs.

For a run nobody could have foreseen, it would be fitting for the underdog to end up as the top dog.

(2) Do it for Joe Burrow.

Overcoming adversity is a theme of Joe Burrow’s entire career. Burrow’s road to greatness started at Ohio State, but he never got a shot to star as the starting quarterback. After redshirting his first three seasons, Burrow made a career-changing decision to transfer to LSU in 2018. Betting on himself paid off. As an LSU Tiger in 2019, he had the greatest season in college football history, leading them to a national championship. The Bengals promptly drafted him first overall.

In his NFL rookie season, Burrow showed flashes of brilliance but was sidelined by a heartbreaking ACL injury midseason. This year, he has not only rebounded but also led his team out of the trenches.

After facing years of doubt, Burrow’s toughness has carried him to this moment. It’s time that he gets rewarded.

(3) Do it for the Hungry Youngsters.

In addition to Burrow, the current Bengals offense features a plethora of explosive but underappreciated talent.

Elite wide receivers Ja’marr Chase and Tee Higgins have decimated other teams in the league (including my Ravens) with their dazzling catches. Chase and Higgins’ chemistry with Burrow has been the steel backbone of Cincinnati’s offensive success.

Premier running back Joe Mixon tore up defenses through the ground and air this year. As an all-around workhorse, Mixon has tallied over 1,500 scrimmage yards and stands third among running backs in total rushing yards. Mixon has been a critical asset in the red zone and a stabilizing rush presence for the Bengals.

And let’s not forget about kicker Evan McPherson. Sure, he’s a kicker, but the Florida native exudes swagger. His cool demeanor resulted in consecutive game-winning field goals in the AFC Divisional and Championship rounds, and his 12 playoff field goals tie the record for the most ever in a season. 

Every time the Bengals offense takes the field, you can expect a firework show from these youngsters. The Bengals’ high-flying offensive weapons paired with stout defense have carried them to new heights. They’ve managed to stay hot throughout the playoffs due to the entire roster’s thirst to succeed.

Few believed in this young Bengals squad, but the team never doubted themselves.

This Sunday, the Bengals will face their biggest challenge of the season in the Rams. So far, they are trumping the typical NFL narrative that playoff experience matters. If there is one group that can shatter it, it’s these young superstars.