The Bengals Will Win the Super Bowl
Will Murphy ’23
Last year, the Cincinnati Bengals came about as close as possible to winning the Super Bowl and now find themselves among the final four remaining teams contending for this year’s Super Bowl.
After retooling an offensive line that was taken advantage of time and time again last year, quarterback Joe Burrow has been given more time to work within the pocket. Burrow has wasted no time justifying the Bengals’ investment too, rattling off ten consecutive wins, a streak that dates back to early November. Their most recent win may be their most impressive to date, a 27–10 pummeling of the former Super Bowl favorites, the Buffalo Bills. Some NFL analysts wrote off the Bengals’ run last year as an outlier, but they’ve turned around and done it again this year.
The Bengals have one of the most talented groups of skill position players we’ve ever seen. The dynamic group is led by Joe Burrow and Ja’marr Chase, each of whom are young players who have already reached the top of their position’s ranks. This year, Burrow and Chase have linked up for over 1,000 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, despite Chase missing time earlier this year due to a hip injury suffered in week seven. Defenses have struggled tremendously to contain Ja’marr all year, occasionally resorting to doubling him, but even that strategy rarely works due to the wealth of talent around Chase. Chase’s partner, Tee Higgins, has been quietly having a career year masked by all the hype surrounding the dynamic duo of Chase and Burrow. Higgins has racked up over 1,000 receiving yards, along with finding the endzone on seven different occasions. Even their third receiver, Tyler Boyd, would likely find himself atop many teams’ depth charts; he’s in the midst of a 750-yard season accompanied by five touchdowns.
All this to say, every secondary in the league will have their hands full attempting to slow down the Bengals’ receiving core. On top of that, Joe Mixon has been one of the most productive running backs in the league for the past few years and has continued his improvement thus far this season. Mixon has rushed for over 800 yards this season and added nine touchdowns. Mixontoo has been the beneficiary of improved offensive line play, as he’s been able to find much bigger holes in defenses, only making the Bengals’ offensive attack that much more potent. The Bengals’ defense has been impressive this year, too, finishing in the bottom five in defensive points allowed and bottom seven defensive yards allowed per play.
Their dominant offense combines with their strong defense to form a formidable foe for all three remaining counterparts, so don’t be surprised if the Bengals are hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after the Super Bowl.
The San Francisco 49ers Will Win the Super Bowl
Joseph Quirk ’23
With the Divisional round of the playoffs now over, the NFL is down to its final four teams. The Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Cincinnati Bengals will all compete this weekend with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. While each team has a compelling case as to why they should expect to be champions, it is my belief that the San Francisco 49ers will ultimately be the last team standing.
To start, let’s look at the 49ers offense. The 49ers have a strong foundation to their offense, starting with their offensive line. The 49ers offensive line is one of the best in football, evidenced by the offense’s 136.9 rushing yards per game in the regular season, which ranked No. 9 in the NFL. The offense also has a QB sack percentage of 5.2 percent which was No. 6 in the NFL. It is anchored by all-pro left tackle Trent Williams, arguably the best tackle in football. The offensive line also gets help from star tight end George Kittle, who not only excels in the pass game but is a willing and dominant blocker in the run game too. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk also acts as a swiss army knife for this offense, being able to play a role in the run and pass game, as well as block. The one knock on this offense is rookie quarterback Brock Purdy. Purdy was the last pick in the 2022 NFL draft and had to step in after injuries took out both of San Francisco’s top quarterbacks. However, since Purdy took over the offense soared. Prior to Purdy taking over, the 49ers averaged 23.6 points per game. Since Purdy joined that starting lineup, that average jumped to 32.6. Yes, he has looked a little shaky in his first postseason action. But the rookie has an incredible stable of weapons at his disposal. Wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel are both yard-after-catch and big play machines. Head coach Kyle Shanahan’s system makes it easy to scheme them open. Running back Elijah Mitchell is a solid second choice to star running back Christian McCaffery. McCaffery can both receive and rush at an elite level and has a knack for making big plays.
All of that doesn’t even mention their defense, which features studs at every level. Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw, and Nick Bosa are elite at pressuring the quarterback. The linebackers, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, are two of the best in football. Those two helped the 49ers defense become the second best in the NFL at limiting rushing yards per game. Their secondary is deep too, with breakout star Talanoa Hufanga earning his first all-pro selection this season.
Top to bottom, this 49ers team has elite talent. And with a smart and experienced head coach, there is no question this team has the capabilities to make a Super Bowl run.