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Week-by-week predictions for every game

It was never going to be easy for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2022 regardless of what the official schedule release revealed.

That schedule release is here and with it comes the official order of games for the Bengals, a team that — after a trip to the Super Bowl — might just have the toughest schedule in the NFL.

Said tough schedule features five primetime games and a bye week in Week 10.

While it’s early and many things will change between now and when the season actually kicks off, let’s step back and attempt to nail down early predictions for each week of the season, culminating in a final record prediction for the 2022 Bengals.

(AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

The Bengals picked apart the Steelers twice last year, including a 41-10 whipping. There’s no reason to think that changes with Big Ben were finally, mercifully over. The Cincinnati defense isn’t going to have a hard time with either Mitchell Trubisky or rookie Kenny Pickett at home.

Forecast: Win

Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

This is one of the trickier matchups on the schedule. Dak Prescott has flashes where he can hang with anyone. It’s also on the road, so coming off an AFC bout with the Steelers to open the season, this 50-50 matchup could be a loss.

Forecast: loss

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Bengals catch another rebuilding team with a developing quarterback. The Jets should be much, much better soon (and sort of feel like a rising team similar to the Bengals), but Burrow vs. Zach Wilson goes to the home team.

Forecast: Win

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins are one of those weird teams that look like contenders for a stretch, then fade. It’s hard to say which version of the Dolphins the Bengals will encounter here. But what we do know? Burrow’s better than Tua Tagovailoa, even if Tyreek Hill comes to town, too. This one goes down in Cincinnati and the Bengals should be favored pretty heavily.

Forecast: Win

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Provided Lamar Jackson is healthy for the Ravens this year, it’s safe to chalk up the season series as a split. He alone has the potential to keep pace with Burrow in a shootout. After a coaching change, the Ravens should come out better defensively compared to last year, too.

Forecast: loss

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

On one hand, Jameis Winston and/or Andy Dalton aren’t the scariest of quarterbacks. But traveling to New Orleans is tough and that Mike Thomas-Chris Olave tandem could be tough to contain. The Saints still have a wicked pass-rush that could cause some problems too.

Forecast: loss

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

The Bengals catch the Falcons at a good time as Atlanta tries to rebuild in the wake of the Matt Ryan era. They’ll start either Marcus Mariota or rookie Desmond Ridder, the former Bearcats star. In a race, it’s Joe Burrow over either of them, especially at home.

Forecast: Win

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Both games against the Browns are giant question marks. Deshaun Watson is a top-10 passer who hasn’t played in a year. As always, the Browns are wicked-talented on paper. If they hit this game relatively healthy and with Watson on the field, the hostile environment might be tough for the Bengals to overcome.

Forecast: loss

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A rebuilding team from the NFC South, the Panthers will start either Sam Darnold or rookie Matt Corral under center. Neither are very scary, and key pieces like Christian McCaffrey have had a hard time staying on the field. Look for the Bengals to pull away and keep it that way.

Forecast: Win

(AP Photo/Matt Durisko)

Yeah, it’s season-sweep time for the Bengals over the Steelers again. That’s just where the Steelers are at as an organization right now. By this point, there could be an interesting quarterback controversy for the Steelers that dampens their chances of keeping pace.

Forecast: Win

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

The Titans will be an incredibly interesting team to watch in 2022 after drafting Malik Willis to put behind Ryan Tannehill. Where they’re at by this point of the season is impossible to say. But if the Bengals defense can toughen up again against a strong running game, it’s a very winnable game (again).

Forecast: Win

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, the Bengals beat the Chiefs twice last year. But any game featuring Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes is pretty much a toss-up. Presuming the Chiefs learned from the mistakes of the last two, a late field goal could swing it in the other direction.

Forecast: loss

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

On paper, it’s easy to project a split at worst with most of the AFC North for the Bengals. That includes the Browns, especially considering the giant question mark that is Deshaun Watson. He’s electric if on the field, but the Bengals can win a shootout with anyone — especially at Paul Brown Stadium.

Forecast: Win

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Getting the best of Tom Brady in the middle of December is…tricky. This is a road game where the Bengals will have to counteract a superb pass-rush and hope to slow an elite offense, painting a dire forecast.

Forecast: loss

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots were able to pull off some notable wins last year while rookie Mac Jones hardly completed any passes. That won’t fly with Burrow and Co. in town on Christmas Eve.

Forecast: Win

Syndication: The Enquirer

Fellow MVP contender Josh Allen will give Burrow a run for his money in a likely shootout. The Bills are legit Super Bowl contenders as well that only got better with the likes of Von Miller this offseason, making for tough sledding for the Bengals in the cold.

Forecast: loss

Syndication: The Enquirer

The Bengals won’t find the Ravens as easy to defeat as last year during two epic blowouts, especially after that amazing draft by Baltimore. But at home? Burrow and Co. should at worst force a split of the season series, especially thanks to the better passing game.

Forecast: Win

Joe Burrow

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Suggestions of a great Bengals regression are premature. Yes, the schedule gets dramatically more difficult this year as a byproduct of going to the Super Bowl. But considering they were already ahead of schedule and upgraded their biggest weakness multiple times — never mind this is Burrow’s first normal offseason — it’s safe to presume they at least level out in the record department. A few of these are 50-50 games and the final stretch is a must-have providing grounds for the playoffs. But another double-digit mark in the win column looks like a safe bet.

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