The 7-4 Cincinnati Bengals are riding high after back-to-back wins over the Las Vegas Raiders and the Pittsburgh Steelers, the latter of those being an utter domination of their longtime rival. However, the Bengals have a tough schedule ahead on their journey to a playoff appearance.
While their toughest challenges are yet to come down the stretch, the Bengals are up to the task.
Looking at the Bengals’ remaining schedule, it is nearly impossible to find any guaranteed wins. They are lucky to have four of their remaining games at home in Cincinnati, but in those games, they are set to face the Chargers, 49ers, Ravens and Chiefs, none of whom will be easy. On the road, they have to face the Broncos and Browns. With six games left and a playoff spot on the line, the Bengals only play teams still fighting for a playoff spot themselves.
As intimidating as that may sound, this Bengals team is different from past Bengals teams. While past iterations may have crumbled under pressure, Joe Burrow and Zac Taylor’s Bengals shine in the big moments. With dominant wins over competitive teams in the Ravens, Raiders and Steelers (2x), this team has shown they can put a whooping on good teams.
In addition to their big-time wins, the Bengals also showed their ability to go up against great teams in one of their few losses of the season in Week 5 against the Green Bay Packers.
While the Aaron Rodgers-led team ended up winning 25-22, the Bengals took went toe-to-toe with them, even taking them to overtime and missing a game-winning field goal. Despite the loss, this game showed that the Bengals could hang with any team they faced.
The remaining schedule can seem intimidating at face value, but the Bengals aren’t going to flinch at any of their opponents.
This is a young and confident team that knows they can beat any team they play, and at this point, it feels foolish to bet against them.
Another point in the Bengals’ favor isn’t just their ability to beat up on good teams, but their ability to do it in different ways. Against the Raiders and Steelers (in Week 12), the Bengals won with great defense and by feeding Joe Mixon, whereas against the Ravens and Steelers (in Week 3), Burrow threw for three touchdowns in both victories.
This is a team that doesn’t rely on one identity week in and week out, they have so many strengths that can win in different ways on any given week.
After the Bengals’ win against the Ravens, I declared them a Super Bowl contender. While that seems to have been a bit premature, with a strong finish and an AFC North title, they still very well could be. At the very least, I expect them to get enough wins to sneak into Wild Card Weekend.