However, after a 2022 season where they went 12-4 and came up just short, there can be no denying that they are a legitimate contender anymore.
The Good Morning Football team with NFL media recently did tier rankings for the AFC and NFC, with the top category being ‘Big Dogs.’
On both sides, only two teams made that category, with the AFC having the Chiefs and Bengals. This is how it should be as the two teams that have represented the AFC in the AFC Championship two years running.
In the last two years, the Bengals had to go to Kansas City to challenge for the AFC crown, but this year, the Bengals will hopefully make the Chiefs come to Cincinnati.
The NFC side is a little more contentious with the Eagles, who lost the Super Bowl to KC, and the 49ers, who have a few more question marks. These two teams were also in the NFC Championship this past year, but a case can be made to leave the 49ers a tier lower. The team is full of good players, and Kyle Shanahan is a great play caller.
On the other hand, the 49ers’ starting quarterback for most of 2022 is coming off a very major injury, and the position overall is filled with question marks vs the other three ‘Big Dog’ teams that all are very confident in their QB position.
Still, that Week 8 showdown between the Bengals and 49ers has the potential to be not only one of the best games of the 2023 NFL season, but also a potential Super Bowl LVIII preview.
Overall, the excitement about the Bengals going into the 2023 season is much higher among both fans and the general media. Last year, some sites ranked the Bengals as low as 7th or 8th, so it is very refreshing to see the Bengals get recognition as a top team in the NFL.