I try to do this in my head each year, but want to put it in print, so can check back at the end of season. But here is my admittedly optimistic game by game predictions.
Week 1- at Indianapolis: Andrew Luck is kind of a mystery going into this game. Missed all of last year, and had quite a bit of rust early in pre-season. But in his last pre-season start he looked a lot better. They have tried to improve their Offensive line, adding Quenton Nelson at OG will be big for them. I am cautiously optimistic about this one, because Bengals should be able to score on Indy defense.... but games vs. Colts are usually pretty tight. Although I think Bengals should go into this one with the edge with Cincy offense vs Indy defense... and hopefully pass rush gets to Luck.
Week 2- vs. Baltimore: Games versus Baltimore are usually decided in the 4th quarter. But most of the really tight games have been on the road vs. them. Marvin Lewis is 11-4 vs. the Ravens at PBS, including 7-3 vs. John Harbaugh. Ravens will be looking to avenge Bengals knocking them out of playoffs, but Bengals will also have memories of last year's home opener disaster against them. I wonder if Joe Flaaco is energized with the drafting of Lamar Jackson, plus he is getting to end of his contract. Last time that happened he won a Super Bowl. He has got some deep threats again, especially with John Brown from Arizona.... I expect this game to be very difficult, considering the Bengal record in Prime time night games... but think they will eke this one out, won't be easy though.
Week 3- at Carolina: Bengals might catch Carolina at the right time. They have major injuries on their Offensive line, and with the pass rush Cincy showed in pre-season, they could really exploit this. They will be the underdog on the road, but will also have 3 extra days of rest, coming off the Thursday night game. Bengals have usually fared well against NFC opponents under Marvin. I just have a feeling they win this one with their defense, considering the holes on Carolina's O-line.
Week 4- at Atlanta: A tough road game against a Super Bowl contender. I think Bengals will drop this one. Falcons had a little Super Bowl hangover last year, but should have extra for this year. Lot of offensive talent, and speed on Defense for the Falcons, plus playing in that Dome will be hard. One of the toughest games on Bengal schedule.
Week 5- vs. Miami: This should be one Bengals have an advantage in. Playing back at home versus a team they have more talent than, at least right now if feels like that. The Bengals have a horrible all time record vs. Dolphins, but did beat them last time, in 2016 at PBS on a Thursday night. Only the Bengals 2nd home game of the year, and think they will be looking to get back on track after Atlanta. This one feels like a win. Unless Miami is just a lot better than I think. Bengals run D will be tested, but should they handle that, should be okay.
Week 6- vs. Pittsburgh: I hate the Steelers, but know they are really good. Bengals are 2-15 at PBS vs. them under Marvin, which is just silly. I mean, on home field, only 2 wins. They have done better than that in Pittsburgh, going 6-9 under Marvin. One of the toughest games of the year, and toughest chore for Bengal defense. Leveon Bell should be hitting peak form by then, and of course they can throw the ball too. I would love the Bengals to be able to win this. Pitt defense really fell off last year after losing Ryan Shazier, so will see in early going, if that will be a weakness again. But considering home record versus them, have to go with a loss here.
Week 7- at Kansas City: Looking at KC schedule, their early games are brutal and mostly on the road. I think by this time Patrick Mahomes will have settled into his role, and will be a difficult task for Bengal defense, with all of KC pass weapons, including Travis Kelce at TE, which Bengals always struggle with... KC defense does not look to be that great right now... but playing on the road, I give this one to KC... plus Bengals the week after a Pittsburgh game are usually pretty beat up physically, so expect a long injury report for this one.
Week 8- vs. Tampa Bay: Honestly not sure what kind of team Tampa will have at this point. They start out with a tough schedule and with their QB Winston suspended. So by this point, there record may not be good... Bengals will really need this one going into their bye week, and coming off 2 consecutive losses. And will want to get to halfway point with a winning record... Bengals should have edge at home.. but do have lousy record vs. Tampa in last 20 years.
Week 10- vs. New Orleans: This should be a fun game to watch, but a very difficult one for the Bengal defense. Alvin Kamara out of backfield may give Bengals fits, and N.O is capable of putting up lots of yards and points.... I would hope Bengals have edge at home. But also know Bengals are lousy coming off a bye week under Lewis. And although I think this game will be very close, Saints are one of best teams in NFL and a SB contender.
Week 11- at Baltimore: Playing in Baltimore usually means the game will be very close, and may be decided in final minutes. Bengals have comeback wins against them in 2014, 2015, 2017 in their stadium, all in last 4 minutes of the game. This will be a crucial one for any playoff hopes. A loss sends them to 5-5, a win to 6-4 with two winnable home games coming up... very important game. Could go either way. But hey I am a Bengal fan.
Week 12- vs Cleveland:
Week 13- vs. Denver: Bengals seem to play Denver every year, despite being in different division. I think this one will favor the home team. Hard to know what kind of Bronco team they will see. They have potential to have a lights out defense. But lot will depend on how Case Keenum and their offensive line do, and if Vance Joseph is the real deal as a HC. Heck, even a slow start for them, could get him canned before this point of year... since he was reportedly going to be gone after final game last year, but players rallied around him.
Week 14- at Los Angeles Chargers: Hard to predict these later games, without knowing what each team's injury reports will look like... but a West Coast trip later in year, and a fierce Charger pass rush may be tough... Phillip Rivers is still very good. Chargers are popular pick to win their Division. They should have edge at home. Bengals have won though last 2 road games vs. them, but those were in San Diego. This will be a good game for anyone who wants to see them on the road this year.
Week 15- vs. Oakland Raiders: The Raiders may be in rebuilding mode at this point. Tough off-season for them. No Khalil Mack will take some pressure off the Bengals O-line. If Bengals are somewhat healthy and in playoff hunt, this should be a good game for them. Last one at PBS would be a must win.
Week 16- at Cleveland: Bengals have fared well winning last 4 in Cleveland. But this Brown team should be better. Who knows what their record will be at this point, but if Mayfield is playing well, could be a tough one... and probably some nasty weather, which will slow down each offense.
Week 17- at Pittsburgh: Hard to predict this game. Steelers could have everything wrapped up and play the reserves. Or it could mean something for playoffs for them. If Bengals are 10-5 as predicted, they may have a WC berth already or need to win to get in.
Wild Card Berth, 2nd in Division..... which would mean a road game vs. one of the Division Champs who did not get a bye.... someone like Chargers, Texans, Jaguars, Chiefs?