In the NFC, the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals have also yet to taste Super Bowl glory.
Along with the Bengals in the AFC, the Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, and Buffalo Bills are yet to win a Lombardi trophy.
Last week, the SK writers team analyzed which of the four teams to have never played in a Super Bowl (Jaguars, Browns, Lions, and Texans) is currently best suited to make it there.
But what about Cincinnati? With the return of their 2019 Heisman-winning quarterback Joe Burrow, can the Bengals become the first of the aforementioned 12 teams to end their Super Bowl drought?
Can Joe Burrow lead the Cincinnati Bengals all the way to Super Bowl glory?
After finishing rock bottom of the AFC North last season, the Bengals are miles away from a Super Bowl title, even with outstanding sophomore QB Joe Burrow back under center in 2021.
Before the Bengals' leaky offensive line surrendered Burrow to Washington for the final time, and he was carted off injured for the rest of the 2020 season, Cincinnati had only won three of its first ten games. Opposing pass rush units were too easily able to break across the line and hit the rookie superstar. The pocket was pure carnage at times. Before the season-ending knee injury, Burrow didn't exactly have an abundance of talent to work with on offense either: RB Joe Mixon was out injured for most of the season; WR A.J. Green didn't turn up either.
If they can get Burrow back fit and firing, the Bengals have a QB capable of winning a Super Bowl. Cincinnati fans can also rest easy knowing that in Tyler Boyd (+1,000-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019) and sophomore WR Tee Higgins (908-yards and 6 TDs in his rookie year), Burrow has some real weapons on the flanks to sling the ball to at least.
The Bengals also have a secondary capable of winning the Super Bowl: Jessie Bates III, William Jackson III, Darius Phillips, Vonn Bell, and Mackensie Alexander all performed their duties with distinction in Cincinnati colors last season. A free-agent signing, Bell finished in the top 15 in PFF grade down in the box; Alexander ranked among the top 15 defensive backs in the slot position; Phillips forced incompletion rate of 21.6% was 3rd highest in the NFL, and Jackson's outside coverage was impressive, too. None of these players were as impressive as Jessie Bates though: Bates was the top-performing safety in the NFL in PFF grade (90.1), interceptions (9), and pass breakups (15).
The Cincinnati secondary is a force. Back over on the offensive side of the ball though: a lot of the Bengals' future success will depend on the return to fitness of not just Joe Burrow, but also RB Joe Mixon who was a huge loss for Cincinnati last year. In Mixon's absence, Giovani Bernard toiled for yards on the ground, so a solid RB2 option was also a decent shout for offensive coordinator Brian Callahan.
Head coach Zack Taylor needs to surround Burrow with more weapons in the backfield and warriors on the offensive line. If he can do that, the Bengals have a chance of success. Drafting Oregon Ducks OT Penei Sewel would certainly be a good start.
The future looks bright for the Cincinnati Bengals, but due to the lightweight offensive line in front of Joe Burrow, it's unlikely the Cincinnati Bengals are the first of the 12 teams never to win a Super Bowl to finally do so. Even if coach Taylor adds Sewell and stacks the OL during the offseason, it will take a season or two for the recruits to gel into a cohesive unit, giving some of the other teams in the conversation a chance to steal in and take the prize.
Plus, there's always that lingering worry that Burrow doesn't come back 100% from that injury...