Life is bitter for 30 NFL fan bases this week, and in less than two weeks, another will join. One ring rules them all, and in a similar vein, only one team can spend the spring and summer months feeling like they are true winners.
It will be either the Cincinnati Bengals or Los Angeles Rams who history smiles more favorably upon, that is the fickle nature that sports offers. As an early exit in the postseason tournament, the Dallas Cowboys are spending all of their time (hopefully) wondering how it can be them who is preparing for the ultimate game a year from now.
Dave Sturchio, Tony Catalina, and Aidan Davis discussed how far the Cowboys are from the Bengals and Rams on the latest edition of 1st and 10 on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. Make sure to subscribe to our network so you don’t miss any of our episodes. Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.
When the NFL’s final four was initially set last week, we took a look at things they did that the Cowboys should have been paying attention to. It is easy to look at the best teams that the game has to offer and want to do the things they do, but it is difficult to actually put those sorts of thoughts into practice.
As the Super Bowl has officially been set the time has come to examine the conference champions and note what they did that Dallas should look to emulate. BTB’s own Tom Ryle took a look at the Los Angeles Rams on Monday so now it is time for the AFC Champions.
Who would have ever thought that we would be jealous of the Cincinnati Bengals?
Cincinnati Bengals: Keep it simple
The Bengals have had quite the road to reach football’s most coveted landmark. After taking care of the Las Vegas Raiders in the Wild Card Round they were tasked with road contests against the top two seeds in the AFC in the Tennessee Titans (although the Titans were a less-intimidating number one seed compared to most) and Kansas City Chiefs.
Cincinnati has an incredible quarterback in Joe Burrow who did improbable things near the end of the regular season to help them win the AFC North. While Burrow hasn’t had a massive statistical performance in the playoffs, he has been able to do enough through the postseason to give Bengals the scores they need while their defense handles things on their side of the ball.
It sounds cliché, but the Bengals are playing extremely sound team football which is perhaps most-evidenced by their stud kicker, rookie Evan McPherson. The Bengals spent their fifth-round pick on McPherson who is a perfect 12 for 12 in the playoffs.
While the Bengals have a star wide receiver in Ja’Marr Chase, they have also built a receiving corps that has other playmakers who can carry things if/when Chase is the focus of the opposing defense. While Chase did score in the AFC Championship, it was Tee Higgins who was the consistent one. The Cowboys are supposed to have the best wide receiver group in the NFL but do not have that same point of reliability. Our friends at Cincy Jungle put Higgins among their winners in the aftermath of their title victory:
With Ja’Marr Chase getting off to a slow start to this contest, Higgins came up with some big early catches and another one on a big drive in the fourth quarter. He quietly had six catches for 106 yards to cap off an outstanding second season.
Simply put, the Bengals have raised the floor for everything that they do across their team and have an elite quarterback to trust when they need a game-winning drive. Burrow has now engineered back-to-back drives at the end of games to set his kicker up for the boot that sent them on to the next round.
Keep it simple. Be good everywhere!