We’re rapidly approaching the end of the 2023-24 season, and only four teams remain, three of which the vast majority of the Cincinnati Bengals fans actively root against on a week-to-week basis. They are, in order of most hated to least hated, at least to me:
- The Kansas City Chiefs - They’ve been the biggest postseason threat to the Bengals over the last few seasons, and I have grown to despise them. I despise their uniforms, most of their fans, the way the media absolutely loves everything about them a la Tom Brady. I know they’re not division rivals, but I circled the Chiefs game on the 2023 calendar before I circled any other game.
- The Baltimore Ravens - Our division opponent, so you know there’s some hate. Familiarity breeds contempt after all. While I do love to hate the Ravens, and while I will continue to beat the “Lamar’s good, but not as good as Burrow drum” for the rest of eternity, I don’t hate the Ravens like I hate the Steelers and Browns. Maybe it’s a respect thing. I don’t hate the Ravens on that level because I respect them. I don’t respect the Steelers or Browns.
- The San Francisco 49ers - This is a team I hate because of our history. They defeated the Bengals in their first two Super Bowl appearances, one of which I remember, though I was very young. New Bengals fans may not get it, and that’s fine. All are welcome. Long-time Bengals fans, though, have it engrained in us that we have to hate the Niners. And Joe Montana.
And then there’s the Detroit Lions......
Detroit and Cincinnati aren’t exactly the same, but they are similar. While downtown Cincinnati has had a complete revival, for a long time, it was a ghost town unless there was a Reds or Bengals game. I haven’t been to Detroit in a long time, but I could tell when I was there, the city had seen better days.
Then the similarities between the journeys the Bengals were and are still on that the Lions are just beginning. A team who hadn’t won a playoff game in 30-plus years wins one, and then another, and are going to be underdogs on the road in the conference championship game, and the whole city is behind them. It’s a feel-good story, and I hope they take it all the way, especially if it means the Niners lose the NFC Championship game and either the Ravens or the Chiefs lose the Super Bowl.
Here are some other random thoughts on this past weekend of playoff football, and some other stuff.
- I hated watching the Bills lose. It hurt my heart. Like Detroit, Buffalo has suffered in many of the same ways Cincinnati has. I was hoping for a Buffalo vs Detroit Super Bowl.
- While I hate the Chiefs, as a UC fan, I love the Kelce brothers. I was getting my journalism degree as they both helped the Bearcats reach new heights (ha!). I even took a Greyhound bus from Cincinnati to Miami to watch them play in the Orange Bowl against Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. It’s fun to watch the careers they’ve built, their podcast’s success, and all that Jazz. The Bengals fan in me doesn’t care for Travis, but the Bearcats fan, as well as the human in me, can’t help but be happy for him. I like Jason more, though.
- This speech:
- The 49ers are going to be tough on Detroit. The Lions will need to play the absolute best game they are capable of playing to take them down on the road. However, the Packers almost pulled it off. The Packers and Jordan Love have a bright future.
- Josh Allen giveth and Josh Allen taketh away. He’s capable of doing amazing things, and he does amazing things. He also doesn’t see the forest through the trees sometimes as well. He’s a guy you can’t help but love, though.
- I was kinda thinking the Texans would give the Ravens a run for their money, but it wasn’t meant to be. Baltimore just dismantled the Texans, and they did it without their second-best offensive weapon, Mark Andrews. Lamar was fantastic, and they almost played like they knew no one could beat them except themselves. The Chiefs have been hot and cold, and I don’t think they played their best game in Buffalo. I get the sense they’ll have to in Baltimore.
- Jason Kelce jumping out of the luxury box in Buffalo was funny. I don’t know if it’s funny in Baltimore.
- I am happy for Baker Mayfield. I hope he is re-signed by the Bucs and continues to help the offense thrive.
If I had to guess at what will happen this weekend, which is also my absolute favorite weekend in the NFL season (conference championship games are the best), it would be.....
- Ravens defeat the Chiefs in another game that’s not especially close, and Travis Kelce announces his retirement shortly after Jason Kelce officially announces his.
- The Lions defeat the Niners in a very close and fun game that will be better than the following Super Bowl.