The NFL’s 2020 schedule has been set and there are many intriguing contests for the Cincinnati Bengals this year. It remains to be seen how in-stadium attendance will work because of the ever-changing COVID crisis, but a new era of Queen City football is underway with a new quarterback and new decade.
Anthony Cosenza, John Sheeran and Matt Minich all took the air Friday afternoon on Cincy Jungle’s Facebook page and the Orange and Black Insider’s YouTube channel to break down the 2020 schedule and answer your questions!
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We talked about this on the episode, so let’s take a way-too-early crack at a win-loss prediction, based on last year’s record and the steps the team has taken this offseason.
Week 1: vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 pm EST on Sept. 13 — Cincinnati has had its share of ups and downs against the Bolts lately, but like the Bengals, they are in a major state of transition. Joe Burrow is the man in The Queen City, while Justin Herbert is the future in L.A.
However, Tyrod Taylor may be starting the year for the Chargers and Paul Brown Stadium should be rocking (provided fans are allowed at games in September). Should be a close one and somewhat-sloppy, depending on how many practices teams are allowed, but Cincinnati starts the year off correctly. WIN, 1-0
Week 2: at Cleveland Browns, Thursday Night Football on Sept. 17 — Most of us believe that Burrow will be the guy who brings the clutch gene to the Bengals and will wrangle in the primetime wins. Still, a divisional game on a short week after a big Week 1 win?
This could be a game where the offensive line issues show and becomes a learning experience for the rookie quarterback. LOSS, 1-1
Week 3: at Philadelphia Eagles, 1 pm EST on Sept. 27 — Cincinnati will benefit from a few days of extra rest, but this is another tough road test in back-to-back weeks. Carson Wentz and Co. eke out a close one against the Bengals, giving them a losing record in September. LOSS, 1-2
Week 4: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 pm EST on Oct. 4 — This game would have been much more interesting if the Jags made a move for Andy Dalton, but it’s “Minshew Mania” part two in 2020. Jacksonville has had a little bit of a messy offseason, as expectations are not that high for them this year.
In the terrible 2019 season, Cincinnati nearly pulled out a win against the Jaguars, with Jacksonville pulling away at the end thanks to three Dalton interceptions. The Bengals are back at home and pounce on the Jaguars by a pretty big margin here. WIN, 2-2
Week 5: at Baltimore Ravens, 1 pm EST on Oct. 11 — The Bengals have not beaten Lamar Jackson in his three starts against them. Cincinnati made major overhauls on defense to help remedy his dual-threat ability, but with so much youth in those moves, it may take some time for sizable positive effects to be prevalent.
In what seems like an annual tradition, Baltimore had another great-looking draft class to bolster a squad that rolled through the AFC in the 2019 regular season. Cincinnati loses a tough one on the road here. LOSS, 2-3
Week 6: at Indianapolis Colts, 1 pm EST on Oct. 18 — Indy has made some high-profile moves, including their on-boarding of future Hall of Fame quarterback, Philip Rivers. Interestingly enough, Cincinnati is 4-4 against Rivers since his 2004 NFL entrance, so they’ve exploited some vulnerabilities.
And, even though this is a “road game”, it’s not much of a jaunt for the Bengals. This one could go either way, but I’ll coin flip it to Cincinnati’s favor. WIN, 3-3
Week 7: vs. Cleveland Browns, 1 pm EST on Oct. 25 — It would have been sweeter if the win in a series split came on primetime, but take the wins as they come, I suppose. Bengals get back at the Browns the second time around, and something tells me it could be by a wide margin. WIN, 4-3
Week 8: vs. Tennessee Titans, 1 pm EST on Nov. 1 — This one has ugly written all over it. The Bengals brought in five new linebackers (Austin Calitro, Josh Bynes, Logan Wilson, Markus Bailey and Akeem Davis-Gaither), as well as D.J. Reader on the line and hybrid player Vonn Bell to aid in run defense.
Still, Derrick Henry is a machine and the Titans’ offensive line is a good one. Undoubtedly, Mike Vrabel will try to play keep away from Burrow and succeeds. LOSS, 4-4
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 pm EST on Nov. 15 — In the Marvin Lewis era, the Bengals were pretty awful coming out of a bye, not to mention sporting a deplorable record against the Steelers. Zac Taylor continued that trend last year, losing after the bye and getting swept by Pittsburgh in 2019.
While one of those wins was against Ryan Finley, the Steelers found success with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges under center. They get Big Ben back, as the Bengals continue to find answers on how to regularly beat their rivals. LOSS, 4-5
Week 11: at Washington Redskins, 1 pm EST on Nov. 22 — The Redskins are still trying to find out if Dwayne Haskins is the long-term answer for their seemingly-unending quarterback search, but their overall outlook is gloomy this year. Even this is a road game, Cincinnati appears to have the superior roster on paper and should take care of business to get back to .500 here. WIN, 5-5
Week 12: vs. New York Giants, 1 pm EST on Nov. 29 — The G-Men were criticized for taking Daniel Jones so high in last year’s draft, but he showed more ability than some thought he would. Saquon Barkley is still a major concern, but this should be a very winnable game at home. WIN, 6-5
Week 13: at Miami Dolphins, 1 pm EST on Dec. 6 — For two struggling teams, the clash between Miami and Cincinnati down south last year was a wild one. It turned out to be the defining game in the Joe Burrow sweepstakes. The Dolphins reportedly wanted Burrow badly and were willing to give up a trove of picks to get him, but the Bengals held strong and took their next franchise quarterback.
Miami got a nice consolation prize in the form of Tua Tagovailoa, and one is inclined to believe these two guys could battle it out often in AFC playoff games in the coming years. This is another coin flip game as both of these teams will be better than many think, but if Cincinnati is healthy, they’ll rattle off a nice little win streak here. WIN, 7-5
Week 14: vs. Dallas Cowboys, 1 pm EST on Dec. 13 — “America’s Team” is once again one of the favorites in the NFC and for good reason. The Cowboys should handle the Bengals here, with the most interesting facet of the game being in the possibility of if Cincinnati goes up against Dalton in some fashion. LOSS, 7-6
Week 15: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, Monday Night Football on Dec. 21 — In many ways, this will be the truest test of just how far the Bengals and Zac Taylor have come in 2020. Part of me wants to grant the Bengals a win here, but even if the Bengals start hitting their stride later in the year, Pittsburgh always plays its best football at this time of the year. LOSS, 7-7
Week 16: at Houston Texans, 1 pm EST on Dec. 27 — Houston is another team that plays really well in the second half of the season. In 2018, the Texans started 0-3 before finishing 11-5, while Bill O’Brien’s squad went 7-4 from Week 8 through Wild Card Weekend last year. It’s a tough road contest for the Bengals, even with the Texans losing many solid players this offseason. LOSS, 7-8
Week 17: vs. Baltimore Ravens, 1 pm EST on Jan. 3 — Without a playoff berth to play for, Cincinnati’s intensity won’t be as high as it would be if they were in the Wild Card hunt. And, until Cincinnati shows us they have an answer for Jackson and the frustrating Ravens’ offense, we’re giving Baltimore the sweep here. LOSS, 7-9
What do you think of how the schedule played out? Do you see a similar-looking record for the Bengals?
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