The AFC just got a whole lot harder, but the Cincinnati Bengals can be grateful for their relatively easier schedule these next few years.
In 2022, Russell Wilson will be joining the Denver Broncos in one of the biggest trades in NFL history, which means that other than the Broncos, every AFC team’s chances of making it to the Super Bowl lowered ever so slightly.
Still, the Bengals — and the rest of the AFC North teams — are relieved that they won’t have to face the AFC West for the next two years since they already played against the division this past season.
No Justin Herbert and no Russell Wilson on the schedule — at least not during the regular season. They’ll face Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs due to having a first-place schedule.
Cincinnati Bengals avoid playing the toughest division in league until 2024
Whew. That would have been bad. Just looking at the AFC West quarterback list makes us tremble in our bones.
Despite thwarting Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs twice in 2021, Burrow could hardly be considered Mahomes’ Kryptonite. Mahomes had a poor performance in the AFC Championship, but make no mistake he remains one of the best quarterbacks in the league with Justin Herbert and Russell Wilson right behind him.
Compared to the roaring lions’ den that is the AFC West, the AFC North looks like a frolic in the park.
The Bengals’ fiercest rivals will likely be Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, especially after all the trash-talking each side has engaged in after 2021. The Cleveland Browns offer meek competition contingent on Baker Mayfield’s improved quarterback play while the Pittsburgh Steelers will attempt to stay relevant in the wake of Big Ben’s retirement.
The AFC was already chockful of young and talented quarterbacks hungry for a ring, but Wilson’s trade makes the Denver Broncos an automatic playoff contender and puts them on a straighter path to the Super Bowl. Thankfully, the Bengals will avoid the rest of the AFC West minus the Chiefs in regular season; the 2022 postseason, however, will come with no guarantees.
We would never doubt Joe Burrow’s quarterback abilities in a million years, but all’s fair in the AFC.