Mike Bass column: With Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals fans are on cloud 9

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You felt the burden of 31 years without a Bengals playoff victory before the Raiders game. You felt free of the weight, now gone with the win, during Titans week.

How are you feeling entering the Chiefs game Sunday?

I threw this one out Monday on Twitter, and the answers were fascinating. There seemed more diversity this week, and understandably so. The team is the same, you still are you, but the stakes and the circumstances have changed, and your focus might be shifting.

You are not used to this. It has been a third of a century since the Bengals played for an AFC championship.

What do you see that will help you make the most of it? What will you remind yourself if it all ends Sunday? You seem to share one belief that helps on both ends.

Joe Burrow makes anything possible.

He has you on Cloud 9.

The view: Enjoy the ride

How are the Bengals like a James Brown dance split?

When @thebengalorian expresses his feelings about the team by tweeting a GIF of the iconic move and including the words, “I FEEL GOOD.”

I knew that you would, now. 😉

“Enjoying the ride,” @bourbonNmeat and @deetdedee each tweeted.

Stress? What stress?

“Proud and happy, and still relaxed,” @Bigjake403 tweeted. “I have (felt) relaxed since that win over the raiders. Just something freeing and relaxing about getting that monkey off the back. ... They have said at work that I seem calmer now than before the raiders game.”

You are present in the moment. There might be no more joyful way to watch the Bengals than when you have shed your angst and expectations and you just let it flow.

THIS IS FUN. So tweeteth @holygrailbanks, the Holy Grail Tavern and Grille, where Bengals coach Zac Taylor and players C.J. Uzomah and Kevin Huber delivered a game ball Saturday night.

A favorite reaction to the game ball?

“My niece is a teacher in Dallas,” @holygrailbanks tweeteth. “Her students were giving her grief about being a bandwagon Bengals fan…sent her a picture of me holding the game ball. She said the room went silent pretty quick.”

There is joy throughout Who Dey World. @CoachKnox17 feels it in Cairo, Egypt, and those around him discover it.

“My school certainly has,” @CoachKnox17 tweeted. “I teach at the school that serves the Embassy here, so this week people are dropping by my class with all the kudos. The sports fan HS kids here are taking notice, they seem to like (Ja’Marr) Chase in particular. The rest of Cairo? All Mo Salah, all the time.”

@CoachKnox17 finds pride beyond the record, lauding the Taylor-made culture and the leadership of Burrow, tweeting, “I don’t feel worried about win or lose this week, although I’d certainly and obviously love to see a win.”

Besides, if no defeat can mar what this season has brought you, and still brings you, why worry?

“Just happy man, @KdBrown357 tweeted. “Win or lose that's not changing. We're ahead of schedule, we've got our QB, what else could you ask for?”

Playing with house money

This is an extension of The Joy Ride View.

The Bengals catapulted from four wins in 2020 to the Final Four today. Think about that for a second.

“Playing with house money,” @Andrewieville tweeted. “Present and future is bright!”

“House money,” @WhoDeyHeg tweeted. “Enjoy the week and not just the game. Proud of my team.”

Appropriately, that gambling term comes up a lot since Vegas. Your honeymoon season extended. You might miss this next season. Look at K.C. fans. Anything less than a Lombardi Trophy will disappoint them. A loss Sunday might feel catastrophic.

Meanwhile, you feel hope.

“I'm excited,” @ChrisSchloemer tweeted. “After so many years of following the Bengals, and watching two missed SB opportunities, I was beginning to believe I would not live to see us win one. I was still a fan, but not too confident. I am now.”

You might feel something familiar.

“Similar to how I felt about the 1990 Reds after they won the NL West after 11 years of frustration,” @JeffNew19116772 tweeted. “Anything now is gravy.”

The Reds rode the Nasty Boys and that gravy train to a World Series sweep.

The Bengals will ride Burrow now and for years to come.

It's time to be all-in as a fan

You know the history.

The Reds won the ’90 World Series and ’95 Division Series before playoff misery. The Bengals reached the ’89 Super Bowl and won a ’91 wild-card game before bupkis.

Back in the AFC Championship Game for the first time in 33 years, Don’t Worry Be Happy might not cut it for you. WE! ARE! ONE! STEP! FROM! THE! SUPER! BOWL!

“Often in sport,” @3003Rob tweeted, “fans console themselves that they r ascending. They r young & will get there again etc etc. But the truth is that u have to take your chance when it presents itself because it may not come again (injuries, tougher schedules, other team etc). We have 2 grab this.”

We don’t know if this is the start or the end. If that unnerves you, remember that the Chiefs are playing in their fourth straight AFC title game – or just stay in the moment. But if that excites, go “All in, as

@Russell_1421 tweeted with a meme of someone pushing every chip to midtable. Even the Bengals graduated from “Why Not Us” to “It Is Us.”

“I am chilled until Sunday at 3pm,” @JamesWi11047973 tweeted. “I am more cocky with this team because I believe they are best in AFC.”

@awolf2007 used the word “hungry.” As in for more. As in, “This is the first taste of success we’ve had in the playoffs in 3 decades. All it’s done is create a monster. We want more. Gotta go and take it.”

There is plenty of disrespect coming from KC

Kansas City is favored by a touchdown.

“Pre KC playoffs I still feel like we are disrespected and have a chip on our shoulder,” @BrandonMMurphy tweeted. “This 7 point differential is just horrible.”

After the Titans game, nose tackle D.J. Reader said the Bengals are disrespected. You might agree if you felt pundits focused on Ryan Tannehill and top-seeded Tennessee and not the winner. And so, @mickals43 tweeted feeling “😤😡🤬. Mainly because they are not being given any credit for how good they have been, just making excuses for why the other teams have lost.”

And now comes the reverie for quarterback Patrick Mahomes, coach Andy Reid and all things Chiefs.

“I feel we are getting 0 respect,” @Levi45Keller tweeted. “Haven’t even seen a segment on FS1 about us.”

If this is what you see and it motivates you, great. If it drags you down, take a step back. The Chiefs are a proven commodity and an annual Super Bowl contender. The Bengals are proving themselves after years in oblivion. Does this reaction really surprise you?

You and I believe there is something special about these Bengals. So does @bengals_girl, who feels, “Like this,” tweeting a GIF of Rocky jumping for joy after climbing the stairs to prepare for the first Creed fight.

With the Eye of the Bengal Tiger, you see an opportunity.

“I hope to make a lot of money,” @BrandonMMurphy tweeted, “on oddsmakers ignorance and bias. 😂”

History: It's hard to beat this team twice

The Bengals already beat the Chiefs. Four weeks ago. In Kansas City. To clinch the division title.

“Feeling outstanding,” @GemCityBengal tweeted. “We match up really well with KC, cannot wait for the rematch.”

“I like the matchup,” @Crazywalt1978 tweeted, “their secondary reminds me of a wet paper bag.”

Today, paper bags can’t cover your receivers. A year or two ago, paper bags covered your heads. Amazing.

“I have been a fan since early 80s,” @Crazywalt1978 tweeted. “So it is awesome.”

So was the wild ending to the first K.C. game, following the comeback from 14 points down led by Burrow, who passed for 446 yards and four touchdowns.

“Joe Burrow going for his 4th sweep of a team on the year,” @gameonjmoney tweeted, with a GIF of Burrow pounding his chest. “If he gets you once he’ll probably get you again.”

Yes: The Burrow Effect is real

A franchise quarterback elevates his team and inspires us. If the Bengals are down Sunday, we believe Joe Burrow will rally us. If the Bengals go down Sunday, we believe Burrow will lift us higher next season.

In only his second season, just shy of 14 months since knee surgery, we can imagine the best is yet to come.

“I believe it is,” @LVGully tweeted. He's just getting started...especially when that line gets better.”

Or we can imagine that he goes down Sunday and stays down, same as last season.

I feel strange,” @CinDealsnSteals tweeted. “I’m so excited. I’m not scared of the Chiefs. But the o-line (last) Saturday? I kind of want to see Burrow live to win many many Super Bowls.”

We can think about the nine sacks the Bengals surrendered. Or we can think about how Burrow still threw for 348 yards and what his perseverance showed us.

“That he may be a Demi god,” @CinDealsnSteals tweeted.

As for me? I look at Sunday as an opportunity to watch our football Moses try to part the Sea of Red in Kansas City.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: AFC championship game: Cincinnati Bengals fans vs. Chiefs