There’s more to winning than what meets the eye. Sometimes, it takes a little more than just the team showing up to win the game. Sometimes, it’s just not that easy. Teams just need a little extra boost.
Each person can probably think of a multitude of different items you need in order to win games.
I’ve been a Cincinnati Bengals fan for as long as I can remember, win or lose. But, to me, there are five characteristics this team has to allow the sky to be the limit for them.
My five characteristics to win games, in no particular order:
— Swagger and Confidence
— The Unpredictable
Ask any player what drives them to perform at home games. I bet 10/10 they will say the fans. Just think of the team as a car. Well, that car can sit in the driveway or parking lot and look nice, but it needs fuel to run. The same thing happens with the team, it may look good, but it needs fuel to run. The team’s fuel is the fans and the atmosphere. That homefield advantage with that hometown crowd allows that team to have a full tank of gas and power through the game.
In a recent Tee Higgins interview with Pacman Jones, Higgins mentioned how much he has seen the city transform from a mediocre sports city to an elite one in just a few years.
“From my rookie year, when we went, what, 4-12, I saw how the city was,” he proclaimed, “I saw how much love they have for us even in a losing record, so I just try my best to give back any way I can.” But he noticed it’s not just his Bengals squad.
This year, according to Canada Sports Betting, Bengals fans were voted as the most loyal fan base. Us Cincinnati fans care more about this team and this city than words can describe, and the players notice.
When a team has a little swagger and confidence to them, that goes a long way. That allows them to approach games with a different demeanor. It takes a lot to take that away.
With Burrow, Chase, and others, these Bengals know they beat any team in the league on their best days. This aspect comes easily to them. When you get that certain stride or swagger, confidence quickly follows. These characteristics complement each other.
Even if you do get a little more confidence or change of mindset and a little pep in your step just from a haircut.
"A little of both. A little of both." Joe Burrow on whether he was joking about haircut after a bad game or serious.— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) September 13, 2023
When a team or a player gets that certain vibe or swag to them, you won’t stop them. It will take a lot to stop that snowball of momentum.
You have to believe in your team. This is the simplest aspect out of all of them. If you don’t believe you can win, you can kiss it goodbye, it won’t happen. The key to completing the package is for the fans to believe in the team, and to say this Cincinnati fan base believes in this team is an understatement.
The most obvious aspect is talent. This team definitely does not lack talent. They have one of the most, if not the most, talented group of players in the league. This year is arguably the best squad they have had in three years. They have won the AFC North title the last two years, made it to the AFC Championship the last two years, and have made it to the Super Bowl one year. Each of these feats has been accomplished under an average offensive line that we have since upgraded tenfold.
Finally, the unpredictable. What is this? It’s very simple, you can’t be predictable. In the past decade or more, especially under the Marvin Lewis regime. Ever since Zac Taylor and company began, it’s been a 180, but there is still a lot of room to improve. It’s never a good thing when you, as a fan, are watching a game and you predict almost every play. If you can, I’m sure the other team’s defense can.
Winning isn’t an automatic and doesn’t come easy. As a team, you have to dig way down deep into your playbook and toss out some different plays. The Bengals were phenomenal at this a few years back, but lately, it has gone back to the predictable plays. I want to see a couple more flea flickers with Mixon tossing dimes to Boyd, or having Burrow take a 20-yard QB sneak, or a double option in the backfield, or double slants across the middle. You have to mix it up and score early and often. This team has two of the better coordinators in the league with Brian Callahan and Lou Anarumo, so take advantage of that.
It’s not very often that you get a team with the whole package, every aspect in motion at the same time, but this Bengals team is on the cusp of that. They need to tweak a few things, and this league is theirs for the taking. If that happens, you better get out of the way, or be prepared to get a gut punch.