The Cincinnati Bengals are 2-3 and a far cry away from last year's winning record. What are some "easy" wins the Bengals could secure to give themselves another shot at postseason glory?
Week 5's defeat to the Baltimore Ravens was tough. A healthy Ravens squad outplayed the Bengals in nearly every area of the field and finally got revenge for their 2021 humiliation. Cincy will get a chance to take down Baltimore later in the season but need to turn their attention to the next stretch of games before their BYE week.
The Bengals will play the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, and Carolina Panthers in Weeks 6-9 and should win each of those games handily.
The Saints are having a crisis of identity with their starting quarterback still injured and with a limp passing offense. The Falcons and Panthers represent two of those worst teams in the NFC and in the league overall as neither team has found consistent success this season; the Browns will be the Browns, and even more so with Deshaun Watson still suspended.
After the BYE, the Bengals face three more beatable opponents on paper: the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11, Tennessee Titans in Week 12, and New England Patriots in Week 16.
Bengals could finish with a respectable 9-8 record in 2022
We don't expect the Steelers to improve that much with rookie Kenny Pickett under center, and a stout Bengals run defense can hold its own against Titans' Derrick Henry. As for New England, the Patriots have the upper hand in coaching yet even Bill Belichick can't overlook his team's offensive flaws, and Bailey Zappe is no Tom Brady.
If the Bengals win all those games, they would finish the season with a 9-8 record, which may be enough to get them into the playoffs.
After last year's 10-win campaign, Cincinnati was due for at least a slight regression, and the Bengals are seeing their offense screech and sputter with an inefficient run game and a weakened passing pedigree.
Gone is Burrow's once-spectacular connection to Ja'Marr Chase, the latter of whom has been swallowed up by double teams through five weeks of the season.
We wouldn't go so far as to say the Bengals are in a rut, but they've definitely fallen off their pedestal and are getting the humbling they deserve in 2022.
A Super Bowl run may still be in the cards for Cincinnati, though it seems less likely at this stage in the season.