No one could have foreseen what the Cincinnati Bengals did in 2021. With quarterback Joe Burrow leading the way fresh off of rehabbing a torn ACL and MCL, the Bengals won the AFC North with a 10-7 record and made their first Super Bowl appearance since 1988.

Despite their success, some don’t feel the Bengals will be as fortunate in 2022, even leaving them out of the playoff picture. Vic Tafur of The Athletic feels a bit differently about the defending AFC champions, as he feels they will be a 10-win team again at least which should garner a playoff spot.

“The Bengals finally addressed their offensive line and then added a versatile defensive back in the draft in Daxton Hill. That’s what Super Bowl losers are supposed to do. This a trap line? Because this — with the NFC South on the docket — seems too easy for Joe Burrow and Co.”

Burrow had a big-time season in 2021 with 4,611 passing yards and 34 touchdowns but he was sacked 55 times, the third-most in the NFL. This is why getting the offensive line together was so critical so that Burrow along with wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins and running back Joe Mixon can flourish for years to come, seeing as none of them are over the age of 25.

Outside of taking an offensive lineman in the fourth round, the Bengals drafted all defensive players, filling holes on all three levels. This made sense with how high-powered their offense is so that they can be formidable on both sides of the ball.

The Bengals will try to avoid the dreaded Super Bowl hangover that sometimes sees teams take quite the step back the season after making the big game. With the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers both getting significant upgrades to their rosters through the draft, and the Cleveland Browns’ familiarity with them, the Bengals could be in another dogfight for the AFC North title which saw only two games separating all four teams in 2021.

Feature image via Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK