4 obvious trap games on 2023 schedule Bengals must be cautious of
Every season, NFL contenders lose a regular season game to a team that more often than not is one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Cincinnati Bengals are no stranger to the idea of trap games, with the 2022 home opener loss to a Mitch Trubisky-led Steelers, and a 2021 regular season game lost to Mike White and the Jets, being the two of the most recent memorable upset games.
Each year, fans and homers project the Bengals to go on a nearly undefeated season, only losing narrow games to the perennial powerhouses in the league. However, it is my job to tell you which games to be wary of in 2023, because in this league, there is no such thing as a lock.
4. Week 1: @ Cleveland Browns
This game smells of trap, and I’d spread a word of caution to Bengals fans writing this off as an easy win. The Bengals have gone 2-8 against Cleveland the past five years, and the Browns' roster will have some new looks in Week 1.
Deshaun Watson will have his first standard preseason in Cleveland, and he is not far removed from his 2020 campaign in which he led the league in passing yards on an anemic roster. A season and a half away from practicing were detrimental to his game, with backup Jacoby Brissett playing better than Watson in 2022.
However, the Browns still spout a top-3 offensive line, a premier running back in Nick Chubb, and helped their franchise quarterback with a true number 2 receiver in Elijah Moore. Their defense is headed by Myles Garrett who has been ruthless against Joe Burrow, being joined by Denzel Ward who has been a thorn in the Bengals side since being drafted fourth overall in 2018.
They have solid pieces throughout their roster, and no one will know if Watson’s playing style will get back into his 2020 form, or if he will continue regressing.
This game is in Cleveland to start off the season, and I know Browns fans have to be foaming at the mouth to take down the back-to-back division champs. The rivalry has been heating up, and the Bengals cannot afford to walk into the Dawg Pound thinking they own the place.