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Cincinnati Bengals – Established 1967

The Cincinnati Bengals name dates back to 1937, but that team folded in 1941 and is unrelated to the current franchise. The second iteration of the Bengals started off as an idea by former Cleveland Browns head coach Paul Brown. He started planning the franchise in 1965 and put the wheels in motion once the city council approved a stadium in 1966. Brown led a group of investors who gained franchise approval by the American Football League (AFL) on May 23, 1967. Brown served as their head coach from 1967 through the NFL merger in 1970 until his retirement in 1975. Brown served as the GM of the Bengals until his death in 1991 and was succeeded by his son Mike Brown.

The Bengals managed to get better every year and, in 1970, won the AFC Central division crown. In doing so, they became the first expansion team to win a championship in just three years. Then, in 1971, Cincinnati took Ken Anderson in the third round of the NFL Draft. It was not viewed as a big move at the time, but Anderson went on to run the offense in Cincinnati for the next 16 seasons. Anderson led the AFC in passing four times and led the Bengals to a second AFC Central title in 1973. However, following Brown’s final year as coach, the Bengals missed the playoffs for the next five years in a row.

But, after a brief rebuild, the Bengals made the Super Bowl twice during the 1980s, in Super Bowl XVI and XXIII. Unfortunately, the San Francisco 49ers stood in their way and came away victorious both times. They wouldn’t make it back to the playoffs until 1990 but were knocked out in the second round to the Los Angeles Raiders.

It would be 15 years before the Bengals would make it back to the postseason in 2005. The team drafted Carson Palmer in 2003 and, along with coach Marvin Lewis, brought the team back into relevancy. The 2005 season was also the first time the Bengals had a winning record since 1990. The team made periodic appearances in the playoffs but would go winless in the playoffs from 1991 until 2020.

After a disappointing 2010 season, Carson Palmer demanded a trade. But, when the Bengals balked, he just up and retired on the spot. The Bengals selected AJ Green and Andy Dalton in the subsequent draft in order to keep the ship afloat. The Bengals had some winning years with Dalton but were never able to make it out of the first round of the playoffs.

Then, in 2020, the Bengals drafted “QB of the Future” Joe Burrow. Despite suffering a season-ending injury in his rookie year, Burrow has proven to be a great addition to this franchise.

In 2021, Burrow led the Bengals to the AFC North title with the help of rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase. The Bengals then won their first playoff game since 1990 when they beat the Raiders 26-19 in the Wild Card round. Cincinnati then went on to beat the Titans, and Chiefs to advance to the Super Bowl. In a close game against the Rams, the Bengals were defeated 23-20. Despite the loss, the Bengals are set up for years of success with Burrow and Co.