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Bengals week-by-week predictions and expectations for the 2018 NFL season

Who will be the Bengals’ MVP, Rookie of the Year, Comeback Player? How many games will Cincinnati win? Let’s dive into season predictions!

Indianapolis Colts v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The NFL regular season is here!

This is not a drill.

We’re mere hours away from the Eagles and Falcons kicking off the 2018 NFL season in Philadelphia.

I’m excited.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say you’re excited, too.


But is this going to be a season we look back fondly on when it comes to the Cincinnati Bengals? I’m surely hoping so. And though I was pretty pessimistic about the Bengals at points this offseason, I’m feeling pretty good about the team heading into Week 1. So before the Bengals begin the season (Sunday at 1 p.m. in Indianapolis) let’s get to some week-by-week predictions as well as my best guess at who will be the Bengals’ rookie of the year, offensive player of the year, defensive player or the year, MVP and comeback player of the year.

Regular season week-by-week predictions

Week 1: Bengals at Colts, Sunday, September 9, 1 p.m. on CBS (win)

The Bengals should beat the Colts, regardless of how Andrew Luck performs in his return to regular season action. The defensive line should get at him early and often and prove how much better the Cincinnati roster is than what they have in Indianapolis. Start the season with a strong message, Bengals.

Record: 1-0

Week 2: Ravens at Bengals, Thursday, September 13, 8:20 p.m. on NFL Network (win)

The Bengals have beat the Ravens in seven of the last 10 times these teams have met, including a dramatic Week 17 win to end the 2017 NFL season. The Bengals need to prove they’re the better team in a nationally televised contest and show they’re competing for the AFC North crown. We all know what happened with the Bengals last year in Week 2 on Thursday Night Football. That embarrassment cannot be repeated. CANNOT. The Bengals need to get back in the good graces of Thursday Night Football in the team’s ONLY primetime game on the schedule.

Record: 2-0

Week 3: Bengals at Panthers, Sunday, September 23, 1 p.m. on CBS (loss)

This is going to be a tough game for the Bengals, early in the season and on the road in Carolina. Do I think the Bengals can win this game, yes. Do I expect them to? No. It will really come down to how miserable the defense makes the game for Cam Newton and if Andy Dalton can keep up with the Panthers’ offensive output.

Here’s a look at how the Bengals’ offense matches up with the Panthers’ defense.

And here’s how the Panthers’ offense matches up with the Bengals’ defense:

Get more from SB Nation’s new advanced analytics.

Record: 2-1

Week 4: Bengals at Falcons, Sunday, September 30, 1 p.m. on CBS (loss)

This is another game that I expect to be tough for the Bengals as they go up against Matt Ryan and the Falcons in Atlanta’s new stadium. I’ll be there. I’d really like to see a win. PLEASE BENGALS, make my trip worthwhile. But for now, I’m predicting this as a loss.

The Bengals’ defense is on the left in this image and the Falcons’ offense on the right...

Record: 2-2

Week 5: Dolphins at Bengals, Sunday, October 7, 1 p.m. on CBS (win)

This is a game the Bengals need to win. When you host a bad team, it becomes a must-win situation (even when it’s not a must-win situation). My confidence is low in the Dolphins this year and after winning three of the last six games against the Dolphins, it’s time for the Bengals to add to a series that’s heavily tilted in the Dolphins’ favor (16-6 all-time).

Record: 3-2

Week 6: Steelers at Bengals, Sunday, October 14, 1 p.m. on CBS (win)

The Bengals are pitiful when playing the Steelers at home in Cincinnati. The last time the Bengals beat the Steelers at home was September 16, 2013. If Marvin Lewis is really trying to revive his career in Cincinnati and finish on a high note, he needs to figure out how to beat the Steelers in Cincinnati. This offseason has been a different one for the Bengals and trending in that direction, this outcome will be different from the norm. The Bengals’ season could rely on the ability to beat Pittsburgh at least once.

Record: 4-2

Week 7: Bengals at Chiefs, Sunday, October 21, 1 p.m. on CBS (loss)

The hype train is filling up for Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City and while the Chiefs’ defense looks unspectacular, the offense could be special. Will Dalton keep up with the young gunslinger in KC? I can see Andy Reid out-coaching Marvin Lewis to notch a victory for the Chiefs. That said, the Bengals’ offense should matchup pretty well with the Chiefs’ defense.

The Chiefs defense is on the left here and the Bengals’ offense on the right:

Record: 4-3

Week 8: Buccaneers at Bengals, Sunday, October 28, 1 p.m. on FOX (win)

Jameis Winston will be back from his suspension in time for this game, which should be a decisive win for the Bengals. Cincinnati will be playing its final game before the team’s bye week and the Bengals will look to end the first half of their schedule on a high note against a weaker team.

Record: 5-3

Week 9: BYE WEEK

Week 10: Saints at Bengals, Sunday, November 11. 1 p.m. on FOX (loss)

The Bengals are traditionally bad after their bye weeks and against a tough team with a great quarterback, I’m expecting a loss. Nothing about this game will be easy.

Record: 5-4

Week 11: Bengals at Ravens, Sunday, November 18, 1 p.m. on CBS (win)

Oh hey, it’s the Ravens again! The Bengals don’t finish their season against Baltimore for the first time since 2014. Instead, they’ll see Baltimore for the second time in Week 11 and will be looking to continue breezing through the AFC North with another win. Will this be the last time the Bengals face Joe Flacco in a purple uniform? It very well could be.

Record: 6-4

Week 12: Browns at Bengals, Sunday, November 25, 1 p.m. on CBS (win)

The Bengals meet the Browns for the first time this season and while the Browns should be better than they were in 2017, they’re still a team the Bengals need to beat en route to proving the team’s dominance. Things are still looking as wild as ever in Cleveland and the Bengals need to get to win number seven in Week 12.

Record: 7-4

Week 13: Broncos at Bengals, Sunday, December 2, 1 p.m. on CBS (win)

The Broncos have a new quarterback in Case Keenum, but is he really the answer for Denver? This is a home game for Cincinnati to start out the final month of the regular season. The Bengals will be facing former defensive backs coach Vance Joseph (now head coach in Denver) as well as two former players in Domata Peko and Adam Jones. Cincinnati should come out on top.

Record: 8-4

Week 14: Bengals at Chargers, Sunday, December 9, 4:05 p.m. on CBS (loss)

The Bengals head west to the NFL’s smallest stadium — though it’s not really an NFL stadium — to play the Chargers. Los Angeles looks good on paper, but if history repeats itself they’ll be badly beaten up by then. This is a good team that it would be nice for the Bengals to beat, but out of their comfort zone, I’m counting it as an L.

Record: 8-5

Week 15: Raiders at Bengals, Sunday, December 16, 1 p.m. on CBS (win)

The Raiders are looking like Cincinnati west after Paul Guenther moved to Oakland to take over as defensive coordinator on Jon Gruden’s team.

Since his arrival, Gruden has made a lot of questionable decisions and heading into the season it looks like the Raiders will be a bottom-feeder in the NFL. AJ McCarron was brought in via a trade to backup Derek Carr and the Raiders also moved on from Khalil Mack. The Bengals should walk all over this team and make Guenther look bad for leaving.

Record: 9-5

Week 16: Bengals at Browns, Sunday, December 23, 1 p.m. on CBS (win)

The Bengals finish off the season with back-to-back in-division matchups, the first coming against a Browns team that likely will have at least one win by this time in the year. Still, this is a must-win for the playoff-hopeful Bengals. They grab the W ahead of the regular season finale.

Record: 10-5

Week 17: Bengals at Steelers, Sunday, December 30, 1 p.m. on CBS (loss)

Ending the season with an “L” isn’t ideal, but sweeping the entire division isn’t likely and the Steelers are going to want this win just as badly as the Bengals. The Bengals lose the game but still make the playoffs as the division champions.

Final Record: 10-6

Regular season Bengals awards

MVP: Andy Dalton

If the Bengals are good in 2018 it will be because Dalton helps lead them to win after win while taking advantage of his weapons.

Offensive MVP: Tyler Eifert

If Eifert is healthy, he has the potential to be elite and I see him returning to that elite form in 2018. The Bengals’ success relies on it.

Defensive MVP: Geno Atkins

Fresh off a massive contract extension, Atkins is equipped with all the tools to succeed, including a surrounding cast that’s incredibly impressive. Carl Lawson and Carlos Dunlap will help Atkins be not only the Defensive MVP in Cincinnati but a top candidate for the award league-wide.

Rookie of the Year: Jessie Bates

Bates is set to become the first defensive rookie to start in Week 1 for the Bengals since 2009. That’s a big challenge and the second round pick is up for it. Look for him to be a playmaker in his rookie season.

Comeback Player of the Year: John Ross

Ross had a rookie season to forget but has shown his ability to dazzle with highlight reel plays and the Bengals will be looking to get him involved early and often to put the team ahead with big gains, utilizing his speed.

Leave your predictions in the comments!


How many wins will the Bengals get in 2018?

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