This has been a strange offseason for the Cincinnati Bengals.

After reaching the Super Bowl and falling to the Los Angeles Rams, the Bengals’ front office worked hard this offseason to improve their weakest areas — specifically the offensive line.

But despite those improvements, it seems like the national media is down on Cincinnati in 2022 (one prediction has them missing the playoffs this upcoming season). It doesn’t make sense, considering the Bengals have transcendent players at quarterback (Joe Burrow) and wide receiver (Ja’Marr Chase).

Cincinnati’s players aren’t listening to the noise. They’re confident in themselves. And running back Joe Mixon even thinks the Bengals are the “hottest thing smoking in the NFL”.

Here’s his quote (via KPIX):

Cincinnati will be looking to prove they weren’t a one-year wonder last season. I feel pretty confident they’ll succeed. Burrow, Chase, Mixon, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd are just getting started.

The AFC will be tough this year — several teams are legitimate Super Bowl contenders — but the Bengals are as well-positioned as any franchise in the NFL to finish the 2022 season on top.

Featured image via Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK