This season may be the first year that I’ve looked at Cincinnati’s schedule for the upcoming season and don’t see a game I think they are heavy underdogs in. This season, every game is a winnable game, as it should be for one of the best rosters in the league. 17-0 isn’t a realistic prediction for any team, and I don’t want to wear my homer hat through this, but even trying to be objective, I still think the Bengals could end the 2022 season with the best record in the league.
Wk1 vs. PIT (W 1-0)
Pittsburgh is going through their first season without Ben Roethlisberger since 2003. The Defense is still stout, but there are a lot of questions on offense. Can Trubisky or Pickett, whose draft profile comparison was prime Andy Dalton, be effective? Can the wide receiver corps finally live up to expectations? Is the offensive line good enough to make holes for Harris?
Pittsburgh won’t be as bad as some people believe. They always find a way to the middle of the pack with Mike Tomlin. However, they don’t have the offense to stand with the top teams in the AFC.
Wk2 @ DAL (W 2-0)
Last year’s Dallas team underperformed. They have stars on the defense and an offense that should have done a lot more than it has. I thought so highly of them that they were my Super Bowl dark horse prediction. That didn’t happen.
2022’s Dallas Cowboys are a strict downgrade to 2021’s. Contract hell means that the loss of talent, such as Amari Cooper and new Bengals tackle La’el Collins, wasn’t made up for anywhere else. In short, Dallas is in trouble and will get worse before it gets better.
Wk3 @ NYJ (W 3-0)
The Jets are a team on the rise. They will have a better season than their 2021 campaign. They beat the Bengals last season, but this year’s prediction shouldn’t be based on that. However, this is still the Bengal’s game to lose, and the Jets are probably still a year or two away from reaching their potential.
Wk4 vs. MIA (L 3-1)
Are the Dolphins a better team than the Bengals? No. However, this could turn into an early-season trap game. The Dolphins’ offense is much improved. The speed of Mostert, Hill, and Waddle should not be underestimated. This is also a Thursday night game, which means a quick turnover and less game planning.
Wk5 @ BAL (W 4-1)
Until Lamar has another break-out season, I don’t believe in him. I’m under the opinion that the NFL has figured him out. He also has no real weapons at wide receiver. The running game and Andrews aren’t enough to overcome the Bengals.
Wk6 @ NO (W 5-1)
New Orleans has a solid defense, but the offense is still questionable. There are many questions left unanswered with Saints. These questions make it hard to predict their success. Is Winston the man? Will Michael Thomas still perform after not being on the field for multiple seasons? I think the Saints are a middle-of-the-road NFC team, and the Bengals should outclass them.
Wk7 vs. ATL (W 6-1)
Atlanta is in a full rebuild. Ridder probably needs a year to develop, and I don’t believe Mariota is a starting-caliber quarterback. Their best receiver, Calvin Ridley, is indefinitely suspended through the 2022 season. This is a team that could be in talks of having the first overall pick next season with the small upside of second-year tight end Kyle Pitts looking to have a breakout season.
Wk8 @ CLE (L 6-2)
For whatever reason, the Browns seem to have the Bengals’ number. Even without potentially having Watson or Mayfield, I don’t feel comfortable proclaiming a sweep over this team. I do think Cincy is the better team, and I do believe they will at least split the series, but I’ll give the nod to Cleveland at home.
Wk9 vs. CAR (W 7-2)
Carolina is another team that should be competing for the first overall pick. This should be as close to a “gimme” game as exists in the NFL.
Going into the bye at 7-2 should put Cincy in a strong position towards the top of the AFC. This is also a good spot for the bye, as the back half of the schedule gets more difficult. This is a good spot to recharge for the playoff push.
Wk11 @ PIT (W 8-2)
For the same reasons as before, the Steelers just don’t have enough power on offense to compete. However, if they do give the nod to Pickett, the game may be slightly closer at home and with some games under his belt than the week one encounter.
Wk12 @ TEN (L 8-3)
Tennessee’s offense got worse this season, but it wasn’t the offense that was wreaking havoc on the Bengals. The Bengals line should be stouter this season than last, but solid interior rushing can be more challenging to deal with than outside rushes. If this turns into another low-scoring affair, as the divisional round playoff game last season, I’m not sure Cincinnati will come out on top.
Wk13 vs. KC (W 9-3)
Bengals vs. Chiefs have proven to be a shoot-out type match. The Bengals have gotten better across the board. The Chiefs, although still very good, have taken a step back. This should still be an electric game, but I predict Cincinnati will continue their streak against Kansas City.
Wk14 vs. CLE (W 10-3)
I gave the Browns their win over us already. I like the Bengals at home. The Bengals are the better team, and I think they at least split, if not sweep. History shows that this is one of our more demanding games, though.
Wk15 @ TB (W 11-3)
This should be one of the closer games of the season. The Bucs are one of the favorites in the NFC and should be as long as they have Tom Brady. I think Tampa Bay and Cincinnati are very similar in a lot of ways, but the Bengals get the nod by being a slightly better, younger version. But never underestimate Tom Brady.
Wk16 @ NE (W 12-3)
New England is a decent team, and Cincinnati is a great team. The biggest worry for this game is going into New England. If the field conditions aren’t superb, I could see this game becoming tighter. Still, the Bengals win.
Wk17 vs. BUF (L 12-4)
This could be the game of the season. Cincinnati should have the better offense, but the Bills may have the nod on defense. If any AFC team could claim to be favored over the Bengals, it may be the Bills. This isn’t an unwinnable game, but at least for now, I’ll give a slight nod to the Bills and Vegas’s prediction makers.
Wk18 vs. BAL (W 13-4)
The Bengals should once again outclass the Ravens; the only way I see this game being a loss is if the Bengals aren’t competing for the one seed and resting their starters before the playoffs.
The Bengals should be in the running for the one seed despite having a tough schedule down the stretch. While their win total could be even higher, I think 13 wins is a decent baseline of expectations for the Bengals. This could be the best season in Bengals history and one I can’t wait to see play out.