The Cincinnati Bengals have battled their way to a 3-3 record, good for second place in the AFC North. Can they keep the momentum going?
Considering the team's relatively easy slate of games in the next three weeks, they better be able to. The Bengals will face the Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, and Carolina Panthers before their BYE in Week 10.
Those three games are basically must-wins and will set the mood for the rest of Cincy's season. Win all three, and the team can relax a bit with a 6-3 record heading into a rest week. Lose one or two, and the cheery morale in Bengals camp will surely be dampened.
Quarterback Joe Burrow spoke briefly about the importance of the team's next three games, noting that the stretch "will determine how our season goes."
Bengals must set themselves up for success before their BYE week
The hardest stretch of the Bengals' 2022 season is arguably at the end of the year when the Bengals take on the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, and Baltimore Ravens. Compared to those three opponents, their Week 7-10 matchups should be a piece of cake.
Except for Falcons' Marcus Mariota, it's worth pointing out that the Bengals will face backup quarterbacks in Browns' Jacoby Brissett and Panthers' P.J. Walker. Even Mariota would count in the category of "unproven and inconsistent quarterbacks," so the Bengals should have a much more potent offense on paper.
Burrow and the Bengals nearly lost to a weakened Saints squad in Week 6, though, and no win is guaranteed.
Cincy's Super Bowl window is possibly the widest in 2022 -- after this season, it will inevitably start to narrow.
There's still time for the Bengals to make up for lost ground, and this upcoming three-game stretch will put the team's competitive mettle to the test.