The Cincinnati Bengals fell short of reaching their second consecutive Super Bowl over the weekend, losing 23-20 to the Kansas City Chiefs. It was a disappointing result for Joe Burrow & Co., who had their hopes set on hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
Still, there is significant reason for optimism in Cincinnati. Through three seasons, the Bengals have exceeded expectations with Burrow at quarterback.
In 2020, the team made strides before Burrow suffered an ACL injury. Returning in 2021, he led Cincinnati to the Super Bowl and a narrow loss to the Los Angeles Rams. This season, it took a special effort from Patrick Mahomes to end Cincinnati’s season.
Now, the Bengals are on a short list of championship contenders for next season. DraftKings has posted them with +900 odds, fifth best in the NFL, to win the 2024 Super Bowl.
Joe Burrow was asked about a potential Bengals window to win after today’s game. His response: “The window is my whole career…Our window is always open.”
Boss answer. pic.twitter.com/AlNJ7q4d41
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 8, 2023
Most profitable ATS team in the NFL since 2020
Bengals fans aren’t the only ones thrilled with Burrow’s play over the last three years. Sports bettors are equally pleased with Cincinnati’s success, as the Bengals have the best record against the spread (36-20) of any NFL team since 2020, according to Stat Muse.
Cincinnati went 13-6 against the spread this season after going 14-7 in 2021 and 9-7 in 2020. Only the New York Giants (73.7%) and Detroit Lions (70.6%) covered at a higher rate this season than Cincinnati (68.4%).
In covering the spread in 64.3% of games since 2020, the Bengals are the only team to cover more than 60% of their games during that time period. The Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, and Lions, each covering in about 58% of games the past three years, are the nearest contenders.
Will the trend continue?
Next season will be the first full NFL season with legal sports betting in Ohio, offering a chance to wager on every Bengals game across multiple mobile sportsbooks. Just because the Bengals have been wildly impressive against the spread the last three seasons, however, doesn’t mean that trend will continue, especially as the market adjusts to the team’s status among NFL contenders.
The Kansas City Chiefs, for example, are arguably the best team in football since 2020, but they’ve covered the spread in just 44.8% of their games during that span. Given the Chiefs’ well-known excellence, they often play as significant favorites, which means they frequently win without covering.
This season, Kansas City is 7-11-1 against the spread, making it one of just five NFL teams to cover the spread in fewer than 40% of games.
Could a similar scenario be on the horizon for a Cincinnati team with an elite quarterback and solid talent at multiple other positions, including wide receiver and along the defensive line? It’s possible, as a healthy Cincinnati should be favored in a heavy majority of games next season.
Photo: David Eulitt/Getty