Nobody expected the 2021 Bengals to make a run to the Super Bowl. SportsOddsHistory had Cincinnati beginning last season at +15000 to reach Super Bowl 56.
But the Bengals pulled off the impossible. After finishing 4-11-1 in 2020, the Bengals went 10-7 in 2021, winning the AFC North, winning their first playoff game since 1990 and reaching the Super Bowl for the first time since 1988. This offseason, the Bengals have improved on a strong core that already featured budding stars Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase with three standout offensive linemen and improved defensive back depth through the draft.
Yet, oddsmakers don’t like Cincinnati’s chances of winning Super Bowl 57. The Bengals rank well below the favored Bills and Buccaneers, and fit in behind several teams that didn’t reach the playoffs in 2021.
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Reigning conference champions typically receive higher odds to win the Super Bowl, even if they were not champions the previous season. The Super Bowl 55 champion Buccaneers began the 2021 season at +700. The Super Bowl 54 champion Chiefs began the 2020 season at +450.
How do the low odds on the Bengals compare to other previous AFC and NFC champions? The Sporting News dives into the numbers.
Lowest odds for reigning conference champions
Bookmakers aren’t looking at the Bengals as one of the top Super Bowl contenders in 2022. Cincinnati isn’t even ranked in the top 10.
FanDuel Sportsbook currently has +2200 odds on the Bengals to win the Super Bowl, tied for the 11th best odds in the NFL with two teams that missed the playoffs in 2021 (Ravens and Colts) and behind three other teams that missed the postseason (Chargers, +1600; Broncos, +1600; Browns, +1900).
There have only ever been a handful of teams that have received worse odds to win the Super Bowl after coming away as conference champions the previous season.
Per SportsOddsHistory, the Bengals’ +2200 odds are the worst odds for a reigning conference champion since the 2016 Broncos (+2500), who won the Super Bowl in 2015 behind Peyton Manning, but saw the Hall of Fame quarterback retire before the start of the next season.
If the Bengals’ odds don’t shift below the +2000 mark before the start of the season, they would be only the sixth team in history to have odds at or above +2000 after playing in the previous year’s Super Bowl.
|Year||Team||Previous Super Bowl||Preseason odds|
|2009||Cardinals||Lost Super Bowl 43||+2800|
|2016||Broncos||Won Super Bowl 50||+2500|
|2013||Ravens||Won Super Bowl 47||+2500|
|2008||Giants||Won Super Bowl 42||+2000|
|2002||Patriots||Won Super Bowl 36||+2000|
The list features a wide range of different reasons for why the odds might have been low. The Cardinals reached the Super Bowl with an aging Kurt Warner. The Broncos saw Peyton Manning retire. The Ravens lacked much star talent on offense. The Giants were already a major underdog in the Super Bowl 42. Bettors didn’t know what to expect out of Tom Brady after the Patriots stunned the Rams in a 20-17 walkoff win.
Take a look historically at preseason odds for reigning conference champions.
Typically, the reigning Super Bowl champion has had odds below +1000. The average odds for a reigning Super Bowl champion is +727, while the average odds for the Super Bowl loser is +900.
The Bengals’ odds aren’t just high overall. They are also just high for the 2022 field. Those +2200 odds have them ranked as the 11th-best in the NFL. Only the 2009 Cardinals (15th) and 2016 Broncos (14th) were ranked lower among teams. And only four teams have ever seen at least 10 teams ranked ahead of them in preseason Super Bowl odds.
|Year||Team||Previous Super Bowl||Preseason rank|
|2009||Cardinals||Lost Super Bowl 43||15th|
|2016||Broncos||Won Super Bowl 50||14th|
|2013||Ravens||Won Super Bowl 47||11th|
|2004||Panthers||Lost Super Bowl 38||11th|
Of course, bookmakers have their reasons for not placing high odds on teams coming off a Super Bowl appearance. There have been 22 teams in the NFL’s history that have appeared in back-to-back Super Bowls. However, only three teams — the 1971 Cowboys, 1972 Dolphins and 2018 Patriots — won a Super Bowl after losing the previous year.
Teams that lost the Super Bowl and made it back the following year have a 3-4 record, while teams that won the Super Bowl and made it back the next year are 9-6, though each of the past three attempts at becoming repeat champions have come up short.