Bengals Schedule: 3 must-win games in 2022 season
The 2022 Cincinnati Bengals schedule is out. The stripes proved last year that they can win their fair share of games against their fellow AFC powerhouses. Now, they must take the next step and be in the mix to represent the conference in the Super Bowl on a regular basis.
The answer as to how to do that lies in last year. As fun as it was to watch the Bengals win consecutive road playoff games to reach the Super Bowl, for a realistic shot at getting there every year, going on the road more than maybe once is not ideal.
If you look at the Bengals regular-season losses in 2021, division games are always tough and a bit of a wildcard. Nothing that happens there should ever be particularly surprising. That takes care of the sweep by the Browns.
There is also no shame in losing a nailbiter to the Packers or a 49ers squad that was very nearly Cincy’s Super Bowl foe. The Chargers also finished with a winning record and beat the Bengals along the way.
However, Cincinnati dropped a game to a Bears team that won just six games and fired its head coach at the end of last year. The Bengals also lost to a four-win Jets team that was playing with a backup quarterback. That pair of games took Cincinnati from five losses to seven and lost them at least an additional home playoff game.
Yes, Joe Burrow and company pulled it off and got to the Super Bowl anyway, but they surely wouldn’t have minded an easier path. Those Jets and Bears games are pretty ugly warts when framed as they are above.
So, let’s look at spots on this year’s schedule where the Bengals should and need to take care of business.
Bengals Schedule: Must-win games
Week 3 @ Jets
New York should be a much better team than the one that beat Cincinnati last year and they did a nice job of adding weapons for second-year quarterback Zach Wilson via the draft. Even so, they have a bottom three roster or something close to it in a loaded AFC.
If the Bengals want to be talking Super Bowl regularly, they can’t stub their toe here like they did last year.
Week 7 vs. Falcons
Atlanta traded away Matt Ryan and it appears they will go into the season with Marcus Mariota and former UC Bearcat Desmond Ridder atop their quarterback depth chart. Ridder is a rookie third-round pick while Mariota has not started a game since 2019. Meanwhile, the Bengals have a legitimate MVP candidate in Joe Burrow.
No further explanation is required.
Week 9 vs. Panthers
Carolina won just two more games after a 3-0 start last year and head coach Matt Ruhle has just 10 wins in two seasons. Last year’s initial starting quarterback Sam Darnold is coming off an injury and has never stayed healthy for a full season but has still managed to throw double-digit interceptions every year he has been in the league.
When a team like Carolina enters the season with massive questions at quarterback and head coach, they are a doormat for the rest of the league. This should really hold true for teams with Super Bowl aspirations like the Bengals.
If the Cincinnati Bengals want to vie for a second-straight Super Bowl appearance, they HAVE to win these three games.