Best and worst case for 2022

Welcome to FanSided’s 2022 NFL Preview! It’s time to peek into our crystal clear football and take a look at the Cincinnati Bengals season prediction.

When the season started last year, almost nobody had the Cincinnati Bengals left as either of the last two teams. A Super Bowl spot was a total surprise last year but has now become an expectation in Year 3 of the Joe Burrow era.

Think how quickly fate changed.

Just three years ago, the Bengals were drafted No. 1, and now they’re being talked about among other gladiators in the AFC like the Chiefs and Titans — two teams they sent to the playoffs last year.

Now that the seal of hope is broken, will the Bengals be able to confirm their arrival in the NFL elite or will they succumb to the dreaded Super Bowl hangover?

Cincinnati Bengal’s 2021 season in recap

  • 10-7 record
  • 1st place in AFC North
  • Lost Super Bowl LVI to the Rams

Last year, the Bengals shocked the world despite coming off a four-win season and losing their quarterback midseason, not only winning their division but also defeating the Raiders, Titans and Chiefs to win the Super Bowl reach. They hadn’t won a playoff game in 30 years prior to their victory over the Raiders and hadn’t been in the Super Bowl since the 1988 season.

Unfortunately, they failed to get their first Super Bowl win, losing 23-20 to the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. The offensive line was a major factor in the loss as Joe Burrow was sacked seven times, but the quarterback has given fans reason to believe 2021 was no fluke.

Cincinnati Bengals 2022 NFL Draft class

  • Rd 1: Daxton Hill, DB/Michigan
  • Rd 2: Cam Taylor-Britt, CB/Nebraska
  • Rd 3: Zachary Carter, DE/Florida
  • Rd 4: Cordell Volson, OT/State of North Dakota
  • Rd 5: Tycen Anderson, S/Toledo
  • Rd 7: Jeffrey Gunter, OLB/Coastal Carolina

The Bengals focused on defense in the draft, spending five of their six picks this side of the ball. They didn’t have to go hard on offense, their biggest weakness in 2021, since they were so active in the free hand.

Hill was drafted to eventually replace Jessie Bates, while Taylor-Britt could take Eli Apple’s job sometime this season. The rest of the guys will provide the key depth. Volson could end up starting if Jackson Carman continues to struggle at left flank in preseason.

Cincinnati Bengals offense preview for the 2022 season

  • Important off-season additions: C Ted Karras, OG Alex Cappa, OT La’el Collins, TE Hayden Hurst
  • Largest X-factor: Hayden Hurst, TE
  • Squeakiest wheel: Jackson Carman, O.L

Ja’Marr Chase was named Offensive Rookie of the Year, and while there could be a dip as a sophomore, don’t count on it. The Bengals also have Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd at receivers, each of whom could be top receivers on other teams.

The team has gone to work improving their offensive line and the unit looks almost entirely different from a year ago. Jackson Carman is the question mark on the line. The rest of the unit, once gelled, should be able to provide Joe Burrow with the protection he needs to pull off those mind-blowing throws.

Tight end CJ Uzomah signed with the Jets, so the team replaced him with Hayden Hurst, who had his best year in 2020 with the Falcons. Hurst may be the guy to take this offensive over the top in 2022.

While the Bengals are in a difficult league, their offense has now had a year to work together and should get even better in 2022. Don’t be surprised if they are a top 5 unit this year.

Cincinnati Bengals defense preview for the 2022 season

  • Important off-season additions: none
  • Largest X-factor: Jessie Bates
  • Squeakiest wheel: Eli apple

While the Bengals didn’t add any new free agents this offseason, they did re-sign BJ Hill, who was a star for them last year. They couldn’t keep Larry Ogunjobi but Zachary Carter draft selection was made to replace him.

Bates was history all summer, eventually returning after signing his franchise tag on August 22. The Star Safety had his worst pro season last year in the regular season but made the playoffs so hopefully Cincinnati gets the playoffs version of him.

Eli Apple deservedly got a stir last season for talking trash and not supporting it in the Super Bowl. Still, the team re-signed him on a bargain deal and kept the second-tier together.

Cincinnati Bengals 2022 coaching staff overview

  • head coach: ZacTaylor
  • Out of. Coordinator: Brian Callahan
  • Def. Coordinator: Lou Anarumo
  • 2023 Head Coach Candidate: Brian Callahan

Everyone is returning, despite the team’s good performance last year. Taylor isn’t the most popular man in Cincinnati, but he won a lot of people over the past year.

Callahan is likely the guy to be interviewed by teams if the offense lives up to the hype. He did interviews with a few teams last off-season, but nobody realistically expected him to get a job anywhere else.

Cincinnati Bengals Awards clock for the 2022 season

Joe Burrow was named Comeback Player of the Year and Ja’Marr Chase was named Offensive Rookie of the Year during Season 21. Can the Team Bring Home More Hardware in 2022?

Joe Burrow, MVP

Burrow should be a prime contender to become MVP. He showed what he can do when he’s at his best, throwing for the most yards in Bengals history in a single season and leading the team to the Super Bowl. He struggled with picks in the first half of the season, but once he settled in, he looked like his 2019 LSU version.

Ja’Marr Chase, Offensive Player of the Year

This could be tricky as there are a lot of really talented wide receivers out there, but Chase will be at the top of the list of nominees for the award. He’s already Rookie of the Year, so why not take the next step?

Biggest game on the Cincinnati Bengals schedule

Week 17 against the Bills is going to be a great game provided all key players stay healthy. These are two of the best sides in the entire league and we’ll see them in the penultimate game of the season at the newly named Paycor Stadium.

Cincinnati Bengals Season Prediction: Best Case Scenario

No one predicted the Bengals would reach the Super Bowl last year, but this year there’s definitely a possibility that they not only get there, but win it all. They came so close last year, why couldn’t they make it to the big game and win the Lombardi Trophy this time?

Burrow had a crappy offensive line in 2021 and the team still made it to the Super Bowl. This year, the Bengals’ offensive line is competent. That’s scary for the rest of the league.

Cincinnati Bengals Season Prediction: Worst Case Scenario

The absolute worst thing that can happen to the Bengals is for injuries to pile up and take their toll. Losing Burrow to injury or some other unforeseen circumstance would be a season-ending event for the squad, but so would be the loss of two of their best receivers as the depth is rough behind them.

Speaking of poor depth, when the offensive line is injured, the Bengals don’t have good enough talent there to step in if their starters get injured. That could then lead to more pressure on Burrow and well… We know what could happen from there.

Cincinnati Bengal’s 2022 Season Prediction

  • 11-6 record
  • 1st place in AFC North
  • Playoff Prediction: Loss in the Divisional Round

While the Bengals could win the Super Bowl this year, there are many good teams in the AFC and that will make it difficult for them. The Ravens are healthier this year and could give Cincinnati a run in the division, so picking the streaks to win the division was almost a coin toss.

Ultimately, the Bengals had a lot of luck on their side last year and although the team is better this year, it’s not always the best team that wins in the end. My prediction is that they will have a bad luck or two in the AFC Divisional Round and be knocked out of the playoffs early.

Read more from FanSided’s 2022 NFL Preview here. For more information on the Cincinnati Bengals, visit Check out Stripe Hype. Best and worst case for 2022

John Verrall

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