Week 12 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
It's wild that the Steelers, who are third to last in points per game according to Team Rankings, are 3-2 and in second place in the AFC North. The Steelers offense has been atrocious through their first five games of the season yet their defense has been good at forcing takeaways, sitting second in the league in that stat, per Team Rankings.
The Bengals know all too well never to underestimate the Steelers in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era, as Pittsburgh stunned them in their season opener a season ago. So far, the Steelers have managed to defeat the Browns, Raiders, and Ravens, giving them a 2-0 advantage in the division. They'll be looking to get a win against every divisional opponent in Week 12 but the Bengals will hopefully be in the thick of the AFC North race at that point.
The Bengals are a better team than the Steelers on paper but as Pittsburgh has proved this year, that doesn't have to matter. The Ravens were beating them for the majority of that game but the Steelers turned it on when it mattered most and won the game. They're not a team to count out.
With that said, however, the Bengals are the better team and this game will be at Paycor Stadium. They should be able to handle the Steelers.
Prediction: Bengals win 27-14
My predictions would have the Bengals going 3-2 in their toughest stretch of games and that'd put them at 6-5 at the end of Week 12. Their final six games come against the Jaguars, Colts, Vikings, Steelers, Chiefs, and Browns, which is not an easy slate. They should be able to beat the Colts, Vikings, and Steelers out of that bunch but the other three games will be tricky.
At best, the Bengals could finish 12-5 at that point. That would be good enough to win the division and maybe even one of the top seeds in the playoffs.
There's still a ton of games remaining though so let's see how things play out for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2023.