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Entering The Divisional Round, The Cincinnati Bengals Have The Rest Of The NFL Exactly Where They Want Them

Dylan Buell. Getty Images.

The Cincinnati Bengals are massive underdogs in Buffalo on Sunday — or are they? If you look at the latest lines for objective "truth", the Buffalo Bills are favored by a freaking touchdown.

I would say, "THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS!" or "I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS!" but I'm not surprised in the least. I struggle to recall a more disrespected reigning conference champion than the current iteration of the Bengals.

See for yourself, Who Dey Nation: The line for Sunday's Bengals-Bills game in Buffalo has risen all the way to -6 in the hosts' favor. 

I thought a five-point spread was pretty rich. Guess there are sharp bettors with brighter minds than mine. I must just be a homer.

When it comes to winning the Super Bowl, Cincinnati is an afterthought at +800 compared to the mighty likes of the Bills (+333) and Chiefs (+300). Hell, even the 49ers with a rookie seventh-rounder at quarterback and the Eagles with a banged-up Jalen Hurts are well ahead of the Bengals in oddsmakers' eyes.

No seriously go ahead, doubt the Bengals. Just realize that Joe Burrow is 13-2 ATS as a road underdog when the spread is three points or greater. The Bills have faced three eventual playoff teams at home over the past two seasons and are still only 8-8-2 ATS. You really think they're covering? And in a tight game, which QB is far more turnover-prone between Joey B and Josh Allen? Rhetorical question.

Some other things to chew on, too: Among teams with a winning record this season, Cincinnati had the strongest strength of victory (.490). Wanna know where else they ranked atop the NFL? Lowest passer rating allowed (80.1).

The reason so many people are panic-selling their stock on the Bengals is because their offensive line is banged up. Did anybody watch the postseason last year? I seem to remember Joe Brrr getting sacked NINE TIMES in Tennessee and STILL winning. This team almost won the whole damn thing if that line could've held up a split second longer against the Rams on that final play.

Truth is, Cincinnati left tackle Jonah Williams gave up a truly mind-boggling 12 sacks this season. As much as a I dislike his replacement Jackson Carman, it's almost impossible to do worse than that. Right tackle Hakeem Adeniji was a mess at guard last year but at least started throughout the playoffs, and is now playing a more natural position. Max Scharping is a downgrade at right guard from Alex Cappa, but so is almost anyone in the league. Scharping is a former second-round pick. It's not like he's bereft of talent.

Folks are blowing the Bengals o-line issue out of proportion. It's something they've overcome before to win multiple playoff games. They're battle-tested on the road more than just about anyone. I don't know that you can get more clutch that Joe Burrow, who's gotten far more adept at getting the ball out quicker in his third NFL campaign. Helps to have dynamic weapons like Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd out wide to distribute to.

Understand this, too: the championship "favorite" is an opponent the Bengals have beaten three consecutive times. As for Sunday in Buffalo? Again, I can't knock the widespread perception everyone has about how great the Bills are. They were the preseason Super Bowl favorites and have largely lived up to the hype. Good for them.

Can't you see that all the pressure is on everyone but the Bengals? 

If the Chiefs choke against Jacksonville, or host Cincy for the AFC title game and lose again, they are officially, 100% in their own heads. Buffalo? Everyone crowned them in preseason and left the Bengals for dead. They should win. They're at home!!

Let's keep going to the NFC. There's always a microscope under the Cowboys. America's Team. They haven't done shit in many years. Everyone is waiting to see how they respond against the 49ers. Speaking of San Francisco, hey Kyle Shanahan, have you exorcized your 28-3 demons yet!? How about blowing a double-digit lead to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl a while back!? PRESSURE.

Thennnnnnn the Eagles. How humiliating would it be if you lost to the freaking NFC East rival Giants, who weren't supposed to do anything this year amid a presumptive rebuild? Oh man, Jalen Hurts. I know you have a bum throwing shoulder, but losing to MR. IRRELEVANT in a home NFC championship duel? Good luck shaking that one off, buddy!

See? The Cincinnati Bengals just keep doing what they're doing. Going about their business. Quietly embracing the ignorant "regression" takes and doubters who don't comprehend what this team is actually made of. And I wouldn't put it past them to win.

Twitter @MattFitz_gerald/TikTok