Bengals dubbed as least likely to win their division again in 2022

Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals weren’t supposed to win the AFC North in 2021 but they did so with a 10-7 record and made it all the way to the Super Bowl. While that didn’t end the way they wanted it to, there’s no reason to be disappointed with how the 2021 season panned out.

Entering the 2021 season, most people wouldn’t have picked the Bengals to win the AFC North. They had won a combined six games under Zac Taylor at that point but the stripes defied the odds, won the division, and gave it everything they had in the Super Bowl, only to come up short.

The AFC North, as a whole, ended up disappointing. As mentioned, Cincy only had a 10-7 record but managed to win the division.

While the Bengals got better in the offseason, Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports has them as the least likely team to repeat in their respective division.

"It’s not that we’re down on the Bengals. Joe Burrow and their play-makers are the real deal, and they wisely addressed the O-line. The defense is also underrated. But they’ve got a tough schedule with an absolutely brutal finish (their final eight are against projected playoff teams), and the division is always tight. It’d be a surprise if at least two of their rivals didn’t challenge for the title; the Ravens should be much healthier, the Steelers are never losers under Mike Tomlin, and the Browns still have lots of talent."

As I mentioned, Cincinnati got better this offseason. They revamped their weakest position from a season ago, improved slightly at tight end, and continued to build on defense. Plus, they have Joey Franchise throwing the pigskin for them.

I do agree with Benjamin, however, in that the schedule is absolutely brutal. The division underperformed a season ago, particularly the Browns and the Ravens who both got bit by the injury bug. The Bengals, on the other hand, avoided the injury bug and that helped get them their first division title since the 2015 season.

Tough schedule could lead to Bengals not repeating in AFC North

The schedule is going to be tough, there’s no debating that, but this team is primed to continue taking big steps forward. As long as they stay relatively healthy, the stripes should be able to win the AFC North again this year.

As of now, their odds to win the division this year are set at +210, per WynnBET, trailing just the Browns, who have +160 odds.

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The AFC North is certainly one of the most competitive divisions in the league but the Bengals proved last year that they have what it takes to compete with the other three teams. There’s no reason to doubt that they can do it again this year.