The Cincinnati Bengals shocked everyone a season ago by not only winning their division but making it all the way to the Super Bowl. The wrong result happened in the big game but the Bengals gave us a season to remember.
It’ll be difficult for a similar result to take place this year, however, due to the more difficult schedule the team has in 2022.
Now, it’s worth noting that a year ago, the Bengals’ 2021 schedule was considered to be a brutal one and they ended up going 10-7, winning their division, and making it to the Super Bowl. A big reason why the team’s schedule didn’t end up looking as daunting a season ago is that the AFC North didn’t end up being the powerhouse that many thought that it’d be.
Entering the 2022 season, Warren Sharp of NBC Sports put together each team’s strength of schedule based on Vegas win totals and said that Cincinnati’s schedule is the seventh hardest in the entire league.
He mentions how the 2021 Bengals schedule was supposed to be tougher but ended up not living up to the hype with 13 of the 17 opponents posting worse records than expected. Sharp also mentions that 11 of the Bengals’ 17 games came against non-playoff teams.
Bengals’ 2022 schedule is going to make it difficult to repeat in AFC
Finishing first in the division meant that the Bengals would already see a tougher schedule from a season ago as they’ll have to face the Chiefs and Titans as a result. That’s two of the seven playoff teams from a season ago on Cincinnati’s schedule, with the others being the Bills, Buccaneers, Cowboys, Patriots, and Steelers.
Throw in the fact that the Browns, Dolphins, Ravens, and Saints are also on the schedule and should make for difficult games and it’s not hard to see why this could be the biggest obstacle on Cincinnati’s schedule.
The AFC is absolutely stacked this year and while fortunately, the Bengals will avoid the entire AFC West, they won’t be able to avoid facing some of the best teams from that conference. They didn’t have to face Buffalo last year and we all know that Kansas City is going to be determined to get revenge. Miami and New England are going to be tough outs as well and those aren’t even two of the perceived “difficult” games on the schedule.
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Hopefully, the Bengals luck out and the opponents on their 2022 schedule end up not living up to the hype, making it easier for Cincinnati to slip through the cracks once again.