The State of the State: Ohio

June 27, 2023

Burrow and the Bengals are primed to lure Lombardi

Amidst a loaded AFC, Cincinnati is all in

From the outset, there is no reason the Cincinnati Bengals can’t win Super Bowl LVIII.

The Bengals have all the goods. A great quarterback. Talent at the skill positions. A defense that ranks within the top-10 of most key categories. And this season, they’ve even got a top-flight left tackle in newly acquired Orlando Brown Jr.

The signing of Brown can’t be overstated. If the Bengals, who finished with 12 regular season wins (in a 16-game schedule) and three points shy of a trip to the Super Bowl had a single “issue,” it was that Joe Burrow spent a little too much time dusting off his uniform. The Bengals gave up 2.8 sacks per game, the seventh-highest average in the NFL. Brown, and the shifting that will take place because of his arrival, should result in a much safer pocket for Burrow. That’s a bad thing for the rest of the AFC.

And let’s not forget either, that the Bengals were involved in the horrifying situation where Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin was severely injured, resulting a cancellation of the game altogether. The aftermath will always be hypothetical, and while the Bengals stormed into stormy Buffalo and beat the Bills, they still had to play in Kansas City for the AFC Championship Game. In other words, the Bengals had some strange and unlucky breaks to finish the 2022 campaign – and still almost went to the Super Bowl. 

Heading into the season, all the odds point toward the Bengals being right back in the mix. Their season win total is set at 11.5. They’re a favorite to win the AFC North at +130. Bettors still favor the Chiefs to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, but not by much; Kansas City is +350 to win the conference, while Buffalo and Cincinnati currently sit at +500.

There’s really no futures bet on the Bengals that feels irresponsible. Putting some dough on the Bengals to meet or exceed expectations almost feels “conservative” given how good, and how close, they’ve been of late. Picking the conference champ is never easy, as every NFL season is a gauntlet filled with twists, turns and injuries, but the Bengals have as good of a shot as anyone.

Why not just go the distance? Would it shock anyone if this is the year in Cincy? Are the aging Chiefs going back-to-back? Have the Bills been exposed? Can the Jets take the leap that justifies their +800 to knock off the top three in the AFC?

Picking the Bengals to win Super Bowl LVIII pays +800, a nice number for a team that plenty of experts are predicting will do just that.

Who Dey? Well, Dey can win it all this year, and it’s worth a wager.

Steve Quinne’s pick: Cincinnati to win Super Bowl LVIII +800