Unfortunately for Cincinnati Bengals fans, their team isn't in the big game, but the Cincinnati fanbase shouldn't distance itself from the biggest game of the year because its favorite team isn't in it.
Another first-round loss in the playoffs ended Cincinnati's ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl, so watching the game is more difficult for many Bengals followers who believed that their team was going to get there this year.
But that's no reason to not watch this season's championship game, and here's why fans of the Bengals should watch and enjoy Super Bowl Sunday.
The Bengals this year played in their third straight postseason game for the first time in franchise history. Here's a list of the teams who haven't been to the playoffs for three or more years:
Last appearance in post-season
|Buffalo Bills||1999 AFC Wild Card Playoffs|
|Cleveland Browns||2002 AFC Wild Card Playoffs|
|Oakland Raiders||Super Bowl XXXVII|
|St. Louis Rams||2004 NFC Divisional Playoffs|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||2007 NFC Wild Card Playoffs|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||2007 AFC Divisional Playoffs|
|Miami Dolphins||2008 AFC Wild Card Playoffs|
|Tennessee Titans||2008 AFC Divisional Playoffs|
|Arizona Cardinals||2009 NFC Divisional Playoffs|
|Dallas Cowboys||2009 NFC Divisional Playoffs|
|Chicago Bears||2010 NFC Championship Game|
|New York Jets||2010 AFC Championship Game|
All records via Pro Football Reference
Bengals fans have to feel good about that accomplishment when they realize traditional winners like the Cowboys, Bears, Dolphins and Raiders haven't been there in at least three years.
The Bengals are in the midst of one of the most successful periods in the franchise's history, and there has to be some joy and satisfaction in what they've accomplished.
Now the starting Seahawks defensive tackle, McDonald was once a Bengals practice squad member. The team used a seventh-round draft pick on him in 2009, and he would spend the next two seasons on the practice squad.
That didn't stop McDonald from being one of the team's biggest cheerleaders, as he would show up at Paul Brown Stadium to greet the team bus and players back from every road trip he didn't make. McDonald spoke of his role on the team, per Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com:
I felt like I was part of the victory or a loss...Either I did something during the week to do enough to aid in the win, or I didn't do enough and we lost. I took that upon myself to show my support. I might just be on the practice squad, I might not be playing on Sunday, but I'm part of the team.
He was eventually traded to the Seahawks, and he's managed to go from being a player barely hanging on to a roster spot to now being an impact player on one of the best defenses in the NFL.
After two seasons as a backup in Seattle, McDonald exploded this year with 5.5 sacks, 35 tackles and an interception in his first season as a starter.
That's the kind of guy fans love to root for, and that kind of dedication makes him easy to root for in a game of this magnitude.
He's also slated to be a free agent this offseason, so a stellar performance in the Super Bowl could help this once-fringe player land a big contract.
Hosting the Champs?
The previous two seasons have seen the Bengals host the defending Super Bowl champions. Last year, they defeated the Baltimore Ravens, 34-17.
In 2012, they whooped the New York Giants, who won the championship following the 2011 season.
The Broncos are favored to win this year's Super Bowl, according to Bovada, and the Bengals host the Broncos in the 2014 NFL season.
That means Cincinnati could once again be hosting the defending Super Bowl champions. Given their recent success against Super Bowl winners, that could be a good thing. Regardless, having the defending Super Bowl champions play in your stadium is always a thrilling event.
At the end of the day, enjoying the Super Bowl is something every NFL fan should do, and Bengals fans should be no different.