Getting to and winning Super Bowl LVIII is the goal for the Cincinnati Bengals 2023 campaign, there is no denying the fact. For the past two years, the Bengals have had to overcome a number of setbacks and hurdles en route to its first back-to-back division titles in franchise history. They have had to deal with record-breaking ineptitude from the offensive line and an incredibly difficult first-place schedule in 2022. Alas, they made back-to-back AFC Championship games and were a play away from getting back to the big game.
For a first-place schedule in 2023, the Bengals 2023 slate isn’t as bad. In terms of 2022 win percentage, the Bengals rank as the 16th easiest route. Their schedule is as mid as can be. Compared to the six other AFC playoff participants, the Bengals have the third-easiest path. Only the Jaguars (10th) and Ravens (12th) have easier paths back. While they don’t have the liberty of facing AFC South opponents six times as Jacksonville does, they do draw them four times alone with their usual AFC North foes and the NFC West.
Expectations are sky-high for this club and they’re primed to impress yet again.
Predicting the Cincinnati Bengals 2023 Schedule
Week 1: at Cleveland Browns
Since the Joe Burrow era began in Cincinnati, the Browns have dominated the Battle of Ohio. It took Burrow himself five tries to dispatch his rival where he finally got the win in Week 13 of last year.
The Bengals have been more successful than the Browns of late but this game is still a war. The roster in Cleveland is one of the better ones in the NFL but they’ve underachieved. Last year, their new face of the franchise was suspended the first 11 games. Deshaun Watson did not exactly look like his Houston Texans self but with a full off-season of workouts, it’s easy to say he’ll be better.
Starting off the season on the road is tough; it’s even tougher to start against a divisional foe. The Bengals start off 2022 with a win over the Browns but it’ll be a true AFC North fight.
Prediction: Bengals win, 1-0
Week 2: vs Baltimore Ravens
Much to the chagrin of the Bengals faithful, Lamar Jackson is back in Baltimore. Even the most hardened Bengals fan has to admit that Jackson is a legit quarterback and has historically played well against the Bengals (insert highlight of his ridiculous touchdown in 2019).
The Ravens continue to draft well and even added Odell Beckham, Jr. Will Beckham be 100% at this point? Who knows? One thing is for certain, the Ravens will be looking for revenge for the AFC Wild Card Game.
Odds are, Sam Hubbard will not be able to save the game with a 99-yard fumble return. The Ravens are still one of the best in the AFC and will get the better of Cincinnati in the home opener.
Prediction: Bengals lose, 1-1
Week 3: vs Los Angeles Rams (MNF)
The first primetime game on the Bengals 2023 schedule is a Super Bowl LVI rematch. Are these teams the same as the ones who met up at Sofi? Nope.
Matthew Stafford battled an injury all year last year and took a massive step back. This is where we could talk about the first-round picks by the Rams over the last few seasons…if they had any.
Los Angeles has some talent, mostly Aaron Donald. There will be another year of wondering if this is the last for Donald and/or Sean McVay. Cincinnati takes this one on Monday Night Football.
Prediction: Bengals win, 2-1
Week 4: at Tennessee Titans
Since Burrow was drafted, the Bengals have had the Titans number. In 2020, Cincinnati took down the 5-1 Titans. In 2021, the Bengals took down the top-seeded Titans in the AFC Divisional round. Last year, the Bengals pulled out a 20-16 contentious win in Nashville.
Tennessee was the cream of the crop over the last couple of seasons in the AFC South but it seems that Jacksonville has passed them by. The Bengals defense should be able to handle business but the question will remain with that strong defensive line in Tennessee. Will the Will Levis hype train be off the rails by Week 4? If Ryan Tannehill has anything to say about it, no. Either way, the Bengals should be able to take this one on the road.
Prediction: Bengals win, 3-1
Week 5: at Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are set to debut a new look in 2023. When the Bengals brought out new uniforms prior to the 2021 season, they went to the Super Bowl. Will Arizona have the same fate?
Not likely as they are buying tickets for the Caleb Williams sweepstakes. Cincinnati gets another win.
Prediction: Bengals win, 4-1
Week 6: vs Seattle Seahawks
For the first time in a month, the Bengals will get to face off against what looks to be a competent team. Last year, the Seahawks took the NFL by storm with a resurgent Geno Smith. His receiving corps just got better after the draft with the addition of Jaxon Smith-Njigba to go with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Seattle also drafted Zach Charbonnet to go with Kenneth Walker which, at the time, sure seemed like a head-scratcher. Either way, it looks like the Seahawks might be back. They’ll be a tough test but if last year is any indication, the Bengals are good right before the bye.
Prediction: Bengals win, 5-1
Week 7: Bye
A Week 7 bye isn’t the worst thing in the world. Considering their first opponent out of the break, Head Coach Zac Taylor will have the team focused in on the task at hand.
Week 8: at San Francisco 49ers
Now this could be a real gem of a game. One of the best games of Burrow’s young career came in 2021 against the 49ers. While the Bengals lost, it sure wasn’t Burrow’s fault. Now, a pair of Super Bowl-caliber rosters face off.
The thing about San Francisco is that they have a ridiculously talented roster at every position but quarterback. Trey Lance could be the future but he is a popular choice to be traded. Is Sam Darnold the guy?
Elite quarterback play or not, Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, and George Kittle will get theirs. Nick Bosa and Fred Warner are going to be quite the problem for the Bengals offensive line. If this game were in any other week, this could be a loss. Cincinnati gets the win off of the bye.
Prediction: Bengals win, 6-1
Week 9: vs Buffalo Bills (SNF)
Bengals. Bills. Sunday Night Football.
Round two of Burrow vs Josh Allen in another matchup of top quarterbacks should prove to be another classic. The Bills have been Super Bowl contenders over the last couple of seasons thanks to Allen and his play. Last year, the matchup was cut short, and for good reason. Then, when they were able to suit it up and settle it, Cincinnati owned Buffalo on Buffalo’s own turf in the snow. And, no, it wasn’t because of the snow.
Revenge is on the Bills minds. Overall, the Bengals are likely the better team as a whole but they drop this one.
Prediction: Bengals lose, 6-2
Week 10: vs Houston Texans
The Texans are certainly one of the teams in the NFL. C.J. Stroud is going to have to sink or swim with a franchise that is, frankly, not recently well-run.
Cincinnati gets back on track with a short week ahead of them in a massive divisional battle in Baltimore.
Prediction: Bengals win, 7-2
Week 11: at Baltimore Ravens (TNF)
What more can the Bengals do to get a primetime divisional game at home? Last year, all three road division games were in primetime. This year, they drew a drip to Baltimore for Thursday Night Football.
Regardless, round two will be crucial for the Bengals 2023 chances. The Ravens will be firing on all cylinders by this point. Going into M&T Bank Stadium and stealing one from the Ravens will be incredibly difficult but it can be done.
Prediction: Bengals win, 8-2
Week 12: vs Pittsburgh Steelers
The fourth AFC North battle for the Bengals is at home against Pittsburgh. No matter how good or bad the Steelers are perceived to be, they will be a tough out.
The thing about this game is that no matter what anyone thinks they know, they know nothing. T.J. Watt is going to get to face off against Orlando Brown and whoever the Bengals line up at right tackle. Last year, the two games could not have been more different. In round one, the Steelers got every break and got what was likely Cincinnati’s worst game all year. In round two, the Bengals could not be stopped and it took a garbage-time touchdown to bring the deficit to a respectable level.
The Bengals take round one in 2023.
Prediction: Bengals win, 9-2
Week 13: at Jacksonville Jaguars (MNF)
What a story the Jaguars are. They, like the Bengals, got their franchise quarterback first overall and then made the playoffs in year two. Trevor Lawrence looked like his promising season was coming to an end against the Los Angeles Chargers in the Wild Card round. He had an atrocious first half. But then, football Jesus made the comeback of the year.
Jacksonville has all the momentum heading into 2023 and they look poised to run away with the AFC South. Calvin Ridley is a good bet to be their best receiver and could be a solid Comeback Player of the Year under normal circumstances. Wait, can suspended players win that award?
Either way, this is going to be a good one. The Bengals go into Jacksonville and get their 10th win but it’s not going to be easy.
Prediction: Bengals win, 10-2
Week 14: vs Indianapolis Colts
Round four with the AFC South is against the Colts. These two teams haven’t played since 2020 in what was actually a classic. Burrow balled out and Tee Higgins recorded his first career 100+ yard game. Needless to say, these two franchises do not look as they did back then.
The Colts took a swing with new franchise quarterback, Anthony Richardson. Where Richardson lacked in being good at football in college he made up for by being able to hit the ceiling at his Pro Day. He will be able to throw it further than Burrow on this day but the Bengals end up scoring more points.
Prediction: Bengals win, 11-2
Week 15: vs Minnesota Vikings
It’s a rematch of the 2021 Week 1 showdown where the NFL was welcomed to the Burrow-Chase connection.
The Vikings are home to one of, if not the best receiver in the NFL in Justin Jefferson. As competitive as Jefferson and Chase are, this is going to be an exciting arm’s race between a pair of elite receivers. The two will be looking to one-up one another with each big play.
The Bengals have invested heavily in the secondary of late. Despite having Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates walk, they should be okay. Chidobe Awuzie should be back to normal after healing from ACL surgery but he will have backup in this matchup. D.J. Turner and Cam Taylor-Britt look capable and over the top, and Dax Hill and Jordan Battle will be able to support. The young guys will have the opportunity to prove they are the real deal.
Prediction: Bengals win, 12-2
Week 16: at Pittsburgh Steelers (Saturday)
Getting the win in Week 12 was crucial for the Bengals 2023 trajectory. However, matching up with the hated division rival on the Saturday before Christmas the week before a massive showdown with the Chiefs. Steelers or not, this smells like a trap.
Prediction: Bengals lose, 12-3
Week 17: at Kansas City Chiefs
New Year’s Eve. Joe Burrow vs Patrick Mahomes round five.
Each of the previous four matchups was decided by three points. Each was an instant classic. This showdown on New Year’s Eve feels like it’ll be the first of two between the teams as both look toward the ultimate prize.
Last year, the Chiefs were able to overcome every obstacle like being the odds-on favorite to win it all and having the best quarterback in the league. Sarcasm aside, they got the most out of their 2022 NFL Draft class which is a crucial step in keeping the potential dynasty together. They have playmakers at every level and will likely be one of, if not the best team in the NFL yet again.
With all of the talk between the two teams and the two fanbases, this could be the most electric matchup between the two. It could have seeding implications as the two vie for that top spot. However, in this spot, Burrow and company come away victorious for their fourth win over Mahomes in what continues to be shaping up as a Manning v Brady-type of rivalry.
When they meet in the AFC playoffs, it’ll be just as hype.
Prediction: Bengals win, 13-3
Week 18: vs Cleveland Browns
Sweeping any AFC North team is difficult. The winner of the division could finish with just three losses total and they all come at the hands of a divisional foe. With the head-to-head against Kansas City secured, the Bengals rest up for their playoff run. This could be just as much of a snoozefest as the Week 17 bout from the 2021 season.
Prediction: Bengals lose, finish season 13-4
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