Every so often in sport, we see an old-fashioned rags to riches story. The type of rise to the top that reads like something from the mind of a Hollywood scriptwriter and, even at that, it could be viewed as a far-fetched tale. As any follower of the National Football League will confirm, reality can be stranger than fiction. This can be said of the Cincinnati Bengal’s rise to the head of American Football, and the team of Bengals fairy tale are now just one game away from making history.
Just a few years ago, followers of the Bengals couldn’t have dreamt of seeing their team play for the Super Bowl. They were a team down on their luck, making poor trades and suffering from long, hurtful losing streaks. Morale was at an all-time low amongst the supporters who continued to pack the stands at the Paul Brown Stadium more out of habit than loyalty. They knew their team wasn’t any good, but the fact remained, it was their team.
Those loyal to the Bengals’ cause spent many a winter’s afternoons watching the Super Bowl match as little more than spectators with a passing interest. They were sports fans and wanted to see their chosen sport shown in the best light, but they watched the Super Bowls without feeling any sort of connection to the teams playing. They made their Super Bowl Vegas bets and predictions in an attempt to make things just a little more exciting. It was a tough time, but things were about to get better. Cincinnati is within touching distance of the Super Bowl. Bengals fairy tale-
Bengals fairy tale hit the ground running
When the 2021 NFL regular season began, most Bengals fans expected that painstaking drought to continue. The team had appeared in the playoffs plenty of times but had failed to make it through and had never won a Super Bowl championship, despite being formed in 1968. There had been one or two eye-catching trades made during the off-season, but the team that kicked off for match one of the campaign didn’t strike anyone as a unit with the talent to go all the way. Another appearance in the playoffs was the best many could hope for, but the players showed they were capable of much more. They were up to the challenge of making history.
Blazing a trail of glory during the regular season, Cincinnati finished top of the AFC North with stats of 10 wins against seven defeats, finishing ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers and their 9-7-1 record. The Bengals went five from nine at home and five from eight on the road, scoring a combined 460 points while conceding 376. That effort meant Cincinnati finished the regular season as one of the top points scorers in the competition, and their critics started to sit up and take notice of the incredible work that was going on at the club.
Their good run of results continued into the playoffs, where the Bengals claimed a few major scalps while causing more than their fair share of upsets. Despite their bite in attack and an offence that was making headlines, Cincinnati continued to be written off by their many doubters, but they didn’t let that nudge them off course. This is a squad that cares not for reputation or the opinions of others. All they hold dear to them is winning Super Bowl LVI. Will they achieve that?
The underdogs have bite
If Cincinnati is to win the Super Bowl at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, they will have to upset the bookies to achieve it. Traders at the biggest sportsbooks in Las Vegas and beyond have come down hard in support of opponents the Los Angeles Rams, who are 4.5 on the handicap.
That suggests the Bengals are capable of putting on a show but will eventually end as the losing side. That’s a dangerous assumption to make as we know the Super Bowl is, if nothing else, unpredictable. It will take a brave bettor to write off the Bengals. They may enter this match as the underdogs, but they have bite and are here on merit. The players know they are on the verge of achieving something special, and they can do that at the home stadium of their opponents.