A first-place Cincinnati Bengals schedule has not been a common occurrence. Overall, it’s projected that the Bengals have the third-most-difficult schedule in the NFL. Continuing our series, the Bengals schedule does have some easier matchups. Starting with number 10, we rank the remaining Bengals games from most difficult to, supposedly, easiest. It is the NFL after all and the Bengals dropped a few games in 2021 in what should have been “easy” games.
Easiest Games on the 2022 Cincinnati Bengals Schedule
10. Week 6 at New Orleans Saints
The Saints were not great in 2021 but will be significantly better this year. Before his injury, Jameis Winston was completing 59% of his passes for 1,170 yards and 14 touchdowns with just three interceptions. That was without Michael Thomas. Add in Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave and the Saints will be a sneaky good team.
Sneaky good, however, may not be enough to overpower the Bengals. This was a popular pick by fans to be in Primetime due to the fact Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase will be back in town, just down the road from where they shattered college football records. This game will by no means be easy, of course.
Winston is still prone to mistakes. If Cincinnati can contain Alvin Kamara, they can force Winston into turnover situations. Trey Hendrickson will look to make a difference in his first trip back to New Orleans and Cincinnati should come away with a win. New Orleans is the most difficult of the easiest games on the Bengals schedule.
11. Week 1 vs Pittsburgh Steelers
No game against the Steelers is truly easy despite how easily the Bengals dispatched them last year. Given their history, can the Steelers be one of the easiest games on the Bengals schedule?
Week 1 is always tricky. Adding in that this is an AFC North battle just makes things worst. In most cases, the team that is better on paper should be able to take their Week 1 battle and that would be Cincinnati.
The Steelers offensive line is still a major liability, as is the fact that they will either have Mitch Trubisky or a rookie, Kenny Pickett, as starting quarterback. This Bengals team is built to stop the rushing attack and that will likely be the only thing that Pittsburgh has early on as it gets its new quarterback acclimated. Expect Cincinnati to do to Pittsburgh again what it did in 2021 and get off with a bang.
12. Week 2 at Dallas Cowboys
The annual Super Bowl hype train for the Cowboys is well on its way. They reside in the weakest division in the NFL, evident by the fact that all four teams have the four easiest schedules; they have to play each other twice!
The Cowboys are home to plenty of playmakers, it’s not like Dallas fields a team of scrubs. Dak Prescott is a legitimate quarterback, the tandem of Ezekiel Eliott and Tony Pollard will cause fits, and the duo of CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup is elite. Defensively, Micah Parsons is a problem. Before this year, many would have expected Parsons to be able to do whatever he wanted to the putrid Bengals offensive line.
The issue with Dallas has been their defense. Trevon Diggs will line up across Ja’Marr Chase. For an accurate quarterback like Burrow, this is a dream. Diggs is able to make splash plays and make quarterbacks pay for mistakes. At the same time, he can get cooked. Dallas is a good team, they just do not match up well against the Bengals.
13. Week 4 vs Miami Dolphins
Yet again, the Bengals and Dolphins will face off on Thursday Night. Yet again, the Bengals play on Thursday Night in Week 4. Since Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa were drafted in the same year, the two are linked and will always be compared. Obviously, these two are very different quarterbacks, but that changes nothing.
The Dolphins did a good job of making noise in the off-season. They acquired Tyreek Hill and subsequently paid him. They signed Terron Armstead. Miami improved its offensive line, fixing a major issue of theirs in 2021. Overall, Miami could compete for a Wild Card berth if they play as they believe they can.
The Bengals match up well against this team. They got faster in the secondary to combat Hill and Jaylen Waddle and have a number of safeties who can come up and disrupt all of the slants they will run. Perhaps by this game, Tagovailoa will be benched for a Ryan Fitzpatrick again. Who knows with this team.
14. Week 3 at New York Jets
The Jets would have likely ranked among the easiest foes in 2021. Then Mike White happened.
The Jets vastly improved their roster in the off-season and through the draft. They signed every tight end on the market and fortified their offensive line. Garrett Wilson and Ahmad Gardner will be day one starters. Jermaine Johnson, Breece Hall, and Jeremy Ruckert will make plays for Gang Green. Not to mention the fact that they will get Carl Lawson back from injury.
Cincinnati overlooked New York last year. The Jets have the talent to put up a fight in this game but Cincinnati will be able to overpower them. Could a touchdown to Chase be the first-career touchdown allowed by Gardner? He never allowed one in college…but he never faced Chase.
15. Week 16 at New England Patriots
In the past, this matchup would have struck fear in Cincinnati. In 2022, it’ll feel like a nice reprieve from the second-half gauntlet they’ll have to face. The Patriots are still led by Bill Belichick, so they’ll put up a fight no matter what.
The way that the Patriots manage to turn nothing into something has been a mystery. Unfortunately for them, it’s very difficult to do that with their quarterback and no receivers. In a battle with the Ravens, the Patriots may have the weakest wide receiver corps on this Cincinnati Bengals schedule. Overall, the Bengals defense is not going to fear Mac Jones.
When the 2021 season was winding down, many within the Bengals fandom were hoping the chips fell in a way that they’d draw New England in the Wild Card round. This will be the same in the latter quarter of the schedule.
16. Week 7 vs Atlanta Falcons
The final two “easiest” games of the Bengals schedule feature a pair of rebuilding franchises. In Week 7, the Bengals get to face off against Atlanta for the first time since 2018 when A.J. Green caught a game-winning touchdown with seconds to spare. There are two very different teams from then.
Atlanta has a question at quarterback after failing to acquire Deshaun Watson and trading away Matt Ryan. Will it be Desmond Ridder or Marcus Mariota? They have a sure-thing playmaker in Kyle Pitts and added Drake London in the draft to replace Calvin Ridley. A.J. Terrell is a spark on defense and will give Chase all he can take.
The Falcons are rebuilding and it’s not looking like they will be uber-competitive in 2022. Cincinnati will be able to get pressure on whichever quarterback takes snaps. Regardless, any NFC South team not named New Orleans or Tampa Bay is looking forward to the 2023 draft.
17. Week 9 vs Carolina Panthers
The easiest game on the Cincinnati Bengals schedule will be a battle of the cats. The Panthers helped fix up their offensive line in the draft and added a quarterback to the mix in Matt Corrall. This is Sam Darnold’s team…for now.
The largest question facing this team will be can they stay healthy? Christian McCaffrey has been one of the top running backs in the NFL when healthy. DJ Moore is a solid receiver in his own right and the Panthers have a few playmakers on defense as well.
The Panthers are likely looking forward to getting their next franchise quarterback in the 2023 draft. Matt Rhule is a popular pick to be the first coach to get the axe next year. The Bengals are just going to help that process along and get to game planning against the Steelers on Sunday Night Football through their bye.
Embed from Getty Images