Training camp has just started, and we’re already talking about the Super Bowl.
ESPN took the beginning of training camp season as an opportunity to focus on what the goal is for each team: getting to the Super Bowl.
52 NFL insiders voted on who they thought were the top contenders in 2019.
Naturally, the returning Super Bowl competitors, the Rams and the Patriots, were voted to be contenders right away. The Chiefs and the Saints joined them on that list.
If you scroll all the way down, you get to a tier called “5 years away.” The lone team in the final tier is the Bengals.
Here’s what ESPN said about the Bengals:
All hope is not lost for the Bengals -- they still have players such as A.J. Green and Joe Mixon, along with a young head coach. But they have long been just good enough to get to the playoffs but not take the next step. They haven’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season. It’s hard to imagine anything different without some changes to how the team has operated. Moving on from Marvin Lewis was the first step, but Cincinnati needs to be more aggressive in free agency, among other things, before it’ll be considered a legitimate contender to get to the Super Bowl. -- Katherine Terrell
While many Bengals fans are looking to the future, the ESPN insiders are looking to the past.
Bengals fans are well aware of the playoff deficit, which is one reason why many are optimistic about the Zac Taylor era. Instead of dwelling on the mistakes of the last 20 years, Bengals fans are happily enjoying the New Dey in Cincinnati.
While they were correct that moving on from Marvin Lewis was necessary, they failed to mention that Taylor is helping the change their ways. The Bengals were already more active in free agency in 2019 than they have been in years, and they have been more aggressive in the draft than in previous years.
It’s hard to imagine any team to be five years away from being a Super Bowl contender. The Bengals have a great core of players and a brilliant, young head coach. Obviously the Bengals have a disappointing resume, but they are closer to contending than some people think.