FOX Sports Insider
There are plenty of boring, legitimate, and logistical reasons why tickets to an NFL playoff game in a neutral city will likely need to go on sale more than a few days before the actual event.
Fans should know that they have actually secured a stadium seat before deciding whether to travel. The prices of flights, hotels and the like will only increase in price the closer we get to the match day.
So when the NFL ordered the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills to begin selling tickets for a possible AFC Championship matchup between the two in Atlanta, an outcome that will only occur if both win in the round divisional this weekend, it made sense: regardless of optics.
But for the city of Cincinnati and a Bengals fan base determined to shoot for a Super Bowl return? Well, they’ll never see it that way.
And when the ticket window opened, not that he’d ever admit it, don’t be surprised if Bengals head coach Zac Taylor allowed himself a little self-directed smile.
Because Taylor knows that an us-against-the-world mentality is one of the oldest and most powerful in sports, and both the excited residents of Cincy and the team that represents them are in that headspace together right now.
Taylor has been stacking the bulletin board material and leaning heavily on it since the postseason system was reshuffled, necessitated by the cancellation of the Bills-Bengals regular season game due to of the terrifying scenes that followed in the field. collapse of Buffalo’s security Damar Hamlin
Taylor was a compassionate shoulder of support for his Bills counterpart Sean McDermott that night. He also visited the hospital where he was taken in Hamlin and his wife Sarah led a campaign collecting messages of well wishes from local school children. Cincinnati fans left Paycor Stadium that night without a complaint and then gave generously to Hamlin’s foundation.
But they felt they got the short end of the new set-up, which was voted on by each of the 32 teams, and were particularly angry about the way they would have faced a coin toss for the lead from the home field when they faced the Baltimore Ravens at home. Wild card matchup, if they had lost to the same opponent in Week 18. That was debatable, they both ended up winning, but the idea of unfairness was seeping into Taylor’s mind and spreading throughout the city.
“It seems like there are positives for a lot of teams and only negatives for us,” Taylor told reporters.
How did the Bengals beat the Ravens and what happens?
The Cincinnati Bengals held on to defeat the Baltimore Ravens and will face the Buffalo Bills, who narrowly defeated the Miami Dolphins. How do the two teams match up?
The Bengals, who now head to Buffalo on Sunday for a chance to return to the AFC Championship, have a collective chip on their shoulder and a unified city behind them.
For locals, however, it can be hard to stay angry. Not with the things that go so well on the field. Before last season, the team had not won a playoff game since the 1990 campaign. Now they have one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the league in Joe Burrow, who did not hold back in telling fans what kind of future think it’s coming
“It’s our standard now,” Burrow said, referring to winning the AFC North title. “We’re going to celebrate every time we do it. We’re going to smoke our cigars and wear our shirts and hats, we look forward to it every year.”
There’s a snarl on Cincinnati’s faces that proves everyone wrong, but also a general sense of giddiness that peaked when Sam Hubbard broke up Ravens QB Tyler Huntley’s now-titled Fumble in the Jungle and returned the ball the entire length of the field. .
The vibes are sure to carry over into the weekend against Josh Allen and company in Orchard Park for one of the most anticipated games of the season.
FOX Bet is leaning toward Buffalo by 4.5 points and the Bills are the idea of most favorites, but Taylor and the Bengals won’t necessarily see it that way. Indeed, the slogan “They Gotta Play Us,” often uttered by a Bengals defensive coach before spreading to the players, then to the home game crowd, and now emblazoned on the Queen City’s jerseys, can be expected to can listen frequently. the next few days
The Bengals have more of a connection to home than many teams, a feeling helped by actions like Taylor and several players handing out footballs at local bars after postseason wins.
There will be some traveling support in Western New York, but the various halls in Cincy are where many will look again, as they question why, all things being equal, there was no coin toss to determine the host site. of this meeting.
Not an unreasonable query, not that anything will change now. Either way, though, Taylor may find that even all the home-field advantage isn’t as much of a boost as a chip on his shoulder and an overflowing bulletin board.
Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX i subscribe to the daily newsletter.
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