Is 2017 the Cincinnati Bengals’ year?
It’s almost impossible to predict the outcome of an NFL season before Week 1 kicks off. Year to year, so much changes in the NFL. You can go from being division champions with a 12-4 record one season to being in third place with a 6-9-1 record the next. Oh yeah, that’s what happened to the Bengals from 2015 to 2016. Last year, my hopes were sky-high for the Bengals heading into the season, and those hopes were crushed early on with all of my predictions proven inaccurate.
Let’s not let that discourage us from taking another crack at the Bengals’ 2017 schedule and predicting the outcome of each regular season game. Here’s my game-by-game prediction for this season. Please join in and share yours in the comments!
Week 1 vs Ravens, Sunday, September 10, 2017, 1:00 p.m. ET (1-0)
The Bengals are 7-5 against the Ravens since Andy Dalton arrived in Cincinnati and 7-2 in the last nine games. With Joe Flacco working his way back from a back injury and the Ravens dealing with a number of other injuries, I see the Bengals taking this game. Add in the excitement of the first home opener in the Andy Dalton-A.J. Green era and this needs to be a win for the home team.
Week 2 vs Texans, Thursday, September 14 2017, 8:25 p.m. ET (2-0)
The Texans’ defense looks to be dominant but the offense is a question mark. This will be a very telling game, early on, for the Bengals. Can the defense shut down Tom Savage? Can the offense hold up against the Texans’ defense, which is expected to once again be among the NFL’s best? Let’s not even consider this primetime, because although it’s on at night, it’s only on NFL Network. Let’s count this toward the win column.
Week 3 at Packers, Sunday, September 25 2017, 4:25 p.m. ET (2-1)
Facing one of the league’s best offenses without Vontaze Burfict is not going to be fun. It’s nearly impossible to stop Aaron Rodgers, so the best way to win is to score, and score a lot. I don’t see the Bengals keeping up and am going to chalk this up to a loss. Also, Rodgers is looking to complete his bucket list of beating every team (other than his own) in the NFL. The Bengals are the only team Rodgers hasn’t defeated and he’ll be looking to change that in Week 3.
Week 4 at Browns, Sunday, September 29, 2017, 1:00 p.m. ET (3-1)
The Browns are going to be better this year than they were last year, but the Bengals aren’t going to be able to afford an early loss to the Browns. In Burfict’s first game back from suspension, the defense is going to come out swinging and dominate rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer. With that, the Bengals get back in the win column.
Week 5 vs Bills, Sunday, October 9, 2017, 1:00 p.m. ET (4-1)
The Bills have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. They traded away key pieces to their roster, (Sammy Watkins, Reggie Ragland and E.J. Gaines) making it seem like winning this season is not a priority for the Bills. The Bengals should win this game with ease and go into the bye week celebrating a solid record, while working toward continued improvements.
Week 6 - BYE
Week 7 at Steelers, Sunday, October 22 2017, 1:00 p.m. ET (4-2)
I fear my birthday this year isn’t going to be a fun one, coinciding with the Bengals traveling to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. The Bengals don’t have a strong post-bye record, for whatever reason, and also don’t have a good record under Marvin Lewis against the Steelers. I hope I’m wrong, but I see this as a loss against what looks to be an impressive Steelers team.
Week 8 vs Colts, Sunday, October 29, 2017, 1:00 p.m. ET (5-2)
Will Andrew Luck by healthy by Week 8? Colts fans certainly hope so after their star quarterback was ruled out for at least Week 1 due to his continued shoulder recovery. The Colts should be a great team with Luck under center, but things just aren’t clicking and the Bengals should get back on track with a win at home in Week 8. The Bengals are going to need it before a tough three game stretch on the road.
Week 9 at Jaguars, Sunday, November 5, 2017, 1:00 p.m. ET (6-2)
Every year, it seems like the Jaguars are getting closer to respectability and every year something goes wrong. Their abysmal quarterback situation is the biggest thing holding them back right now. The defense is expected to be above average, but hopefully by Week 9 the Bengals will be clicking on offense with all of Andy Dalton’s new (and old) weapons hitting their stride. This is a win for the away team.
Week 10 at Titans, Sunday, November 12, 2017, 1:00 p.m. ET (6-3)
The Titans had a good 2016 season, just barely missing the playoffs after Marcus Mariota was injured in the final weeks of the year. They’re primed to be better this year than last and could become one of the AFC’s top teams. Their offense is strong and the defense isn’t too shabby either. This is going down as a loss for Cincinnati.
Week 11 at Broncos, Sunday, November 19, 2017, 4:25 p.m. ET (7-3)
Vance Joseph will surely have some tricks up his sleeve when facing his former team, but the Bengals cannot let Trevor Siemian walk all over them again. After being embarassed by the Broncos last year, the Bengals need a win to even the score (in that two year span) against Denver and its impressive defense. This will be a tough game in the Denver altitude, but I don’t see the Broncos having a great season and the Bengals should come out on top.
Week 12 vs Browns, Sunday, November 26, 2017, 1:00 p.m. ET (8-3)
Another game against the Browns, another victory? This one will be tougher as the young Browns will be more experienced late in the season, but the Bengals need to take advantage of the easiest games on the schedule and this is one of them. This game will be closer than the first Battle of Ohio (Week 4), but the Bengals will walk away victorious.
Week 13 vs Steelers, Monday, December 4, 2017, 8:30 p.m. ET (8-4)
The Steelers. At Paul Brown Stadium. In primetime. This combination is not a good one. The Bengals have been terrible, and that’s putting it lightly, when facing the Steelers at home during the Marvin Lewis era. Add in the primetime struggles the team has faced and this looks like a loss. Again, I hope I’m wrong (really, really wrong!) but I’m putting this down as a defeat.
Week 14 vs Bears, Sunday, December 10, 2017, 1:00 p.m. ET (9-4)
The Bears do not project to be good in 2017. Their quarterback situation is questionable, their wide receiver group is barren, this is their tight end unit: Dion Sims, Zach Miller, Adam Shaheen and Daniel Brown. The defense projects to be better than the Mike Glennon (for now) led offense, but like the Browns game, this is a game the Bengals must win.
Week 15 at Vikings, Sunday, December 17, 2017, 8:30 p.m. ET (9-5)
This is sure to be a great game, but not one I see the Bengals winning. Facing Mike Zimmer’s new team for the first time in the regular season since he left Cincinnati, the stakes are going to be high. Both teams may look very different by Week 15 than we expect them to as of now, but it’s going to be difficult to beat the Vikings in their new stadium with their standout defense. Zimmer knows too many of the Bengals’ tendencies and secretsto feel good about this one.
Week 16 vs Lions, Sunday, December 24, 2017, 1:00 p.m. ET (10-5)
Back at home, the Bengals will want to get back to winning football games and that comes while facing another old friend, wide receiver Marvin Jones. The Lions may be good this year, but this is a game the Bengals will want to win at the end of the season as they look to gain momentum heading into the playoffs.
Week 17 at Ravens, Sunday, December 31, 2017, 1:00 p.m. ET (11-5)
This game really could go either way and may be the contest I debated most (in my head) in making this projection. The Bengals have finished the season many times against the Ravens, but recently, all have been at Paul Brown Stadium. That’s what happens when you open on the road for seven straight years. This year, the Bengals will travel to end the regular season on New Year’s Eve in Baltimore. How healthy will each team be? How much will be on the line? Will both teams still be in the playoff race? There’s a lot to think about in projecting who wins this game. I’ll say the Bengals will have more on the line by Week 17 and will be fighting for playoff positioning. This game will give the Bengals the No. 5 seed in the AFC and a spot in Wild Card weekend, yes, I’m predicting the Steelers to win the AFC North.
I’m not going to project who the Bengals play in the playoffs, but let’s just say I see them winning at least one playoff game. They simply cannot lose their next playoff game. CANNOT.
If I say it in caps will that make it come true? Let’s hope so.
Share your season projections in the comments!