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No Fluke: AFC Champion Bengals Out to Prove Doubters Wrong, Eyeing Another Postseason Run

Cincinnati finished 10-7 last season and won the AFC Championship for the first time since 1988.

CINCINNATI — The Bengals might've 90 seconds away from their first Super Bowl title last season, but that doesn't mean outside perception of the defending AFC Champions has changed.

Players in the locker room know what the pundits are saying about Cincinnati. 

"When people call it a fluke, we just smile and take it on. We’re ready to go out there and prove it again," cornerback Mike Hilton said on Tuesday. "People are going to speak their truth, whether we like it or not. Of course, it gets around the locker room. But it doesn’t do anything but motivate us."

The Bengals posted a 10-7 record, won the AFC North for the first time since 2015 and won three playoff games en route to their first conference championship since 1988. 

They have a talented core of players that includes Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Trey Hendrickson and Chidobe Awuzie. They also addressed their biggest weakness of the offseason by adding three starting offensive linemen: La'el Collins, Alex Cappa and Ted Karras. 

Why is their run to Super Bowl LVI considered a fluke?

"Because it’s the Bengals. Point blank, period," Hilton said. "When you think of the Bengals, you’re like, ‘Oh, the Bengals,’ you know? But now, with this group of guys that we have and the coaches that we have, we’re really turning this organization around. And we’re just trying to get the respect we deserve."

Hilton's right about one thing: the oddsmakers aren't predicting another Bengals' postseason run. 

Cincinnati has the 12-best odds (+2000) of winning the Super Bowl according to SI SportsBook. Cleveland (+1800) is ahead of them and Baltimore is tied (+2000). 

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