The Bengals snapped a 32-year AFC championship game drought with their appearance last year, and they followed that up by preventing another drought and making back-to-back conference finals. That coincides with the acquisition of quarterback Joe Burrow, who has now made two AFC championship games in his first three years in the NFL.
In just two years, Cincinnati has gone from a team that couldn’t win a playoff game to a team that expects to win the Super Bowl, largely thanks to Burrow. And the third-year quarterback expressed as much on Friday.
When asked if back-to-back AFC championship games was “surreal,” Burrow stressed the team has higher expectations.
“I wouldn’t say it’s surreal,” he said, via WLWT in Cincinnati. “I would say winning is expected.”
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Burrow has been adamant all year that this team expects big things, something he explained after last week’s win over the Bills.
Both of AFC’s finalists show how the right quarterback can change the fortunes of a franchise. Before Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs hadn’t made a Super Bowl since 1970, and are now vying for their third Super Bowl appearance in four years. As for Cincinnati, a win would mean two straight AFC titles, which would match the team’s total number of Super Bowl appearances before drafting Burrow.
Despite never winning a Super Bowl, the Bengals now have a culture in which they expect to win it all.