When an NFL franchise makes it to the Super Bowl one year, that team faces a rude awakening the next. The Bengals may avoid this fate.
Typically, a conference champion acquires the bull’s-eye that comes from being a measuring stick for other teams. Suddenly, teams that want to prove themselves circle that date on the schedule. Suddenly, the hunter becomes the hunted. Suddenly, it’s a Steph Curry game, not a Chris Paul game.
The Bengals, however, continue to take a back seat to other teams.
Consider the PointsBet odds to win the next Super Bowl. The Bills are the 7-1 favorites, followed by the Bucs at +750 and the Chiefs at 9-1. The Packers and Rams come in at 10-1, with the Cowboys, Broncos, Chargers, and 49ers each at +1600.
And then there are the Bengals, at +2000.
How can that be? The Bengals, at 20-1? Same as the Browns, who don’t know whether they’ll have quarterback Deshaun Watson for any, some, or all of the games to be played this year.
It speaks to the overall competitiveness of the league. But it also can be used by the Bengals as fuel. They can easily persuade themselves that they aren’t getting respect. They will easily be able to avoid complacency. They can easily retain the role of hunters.
And to the extent you’re hunting for bargains beyond the Bengals at +2000, the Steelers currently are at +9000. Yes, 90-1. Making that one even more glaring is that the Jaguars currently have the same odds.