The Cincinnati Bengals have clocked in at 20th in terms of strength of schedule for the upcoming season. Although that number is based on projected win totals for teams in 2023, let’s take a look at the three easiest defenses the Bengals will face this season.
3. Houston Texans
Depending on the development of Will Anderson Jr., who was selected third overall in the 2023 draft, this Texans defense could look a little different.
Houston has been struggling to rebuild and revamp their secondary, spending high draft capital on Derek Stingley Jr. and Jalen Pitre last year. They also brought in former Seahawk, Shaquille Griffin, this month.
Sheldon Rankins was a decent signing to help stiffen up the Texans' defensive line, but it does little to move the needle. Houston lines up as the 28th-ranked defense; although Pitre and Singley Jr. were sub-standard in their rookie campaigns, they should look to take a step up this year.
2. Arizona Cardinals
After only being a year removed from starting the season 9-2, Arizona has taken a nose-dive and is even projected to net the first two overall picks. The retirement of future Hall-of-Famer J.J. Watt hurts an already weak defense in Arizona.
Second-rounder B.J. Ojulari and third-rounder Garrett Williams will be given snaps early in the season as the Arizona front office hopes for a spark. The Cardinals are currently projected to have the third-worst defense in the league with not much hope for improvement.
Budda Baker is the sole spark on this defense, but he has requested a trade since meeting new head coach Jonathon Gannon. Joe Burrow will have an easy time cutting through a defense that is extremely soft at all three levels.
1. Los Angeles Rams
While the Rams beat the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI, the defense has since been decimated. Two of the big three defensive playmakers in Von Miller and Jalen Ramsey both have new homes after leaving in consecutive seasons.
The lone ranger is Aaron Donald who is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, seven-time first-team All-Pro, and nine-time Pro Bowler. Donald does not seem to be slowing down in the near future, but this Rams unit is consensus dead last in the league.
Cincinnati should hopefully be able to exact some revenge on Donald who ended their Super Bowl hopes just one year ago.