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Way-too-early schedule predictions: Bengals at Saints

Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase make their long-awaited return to the Bayou.

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

One of the 2021 Cincinnati Bengals’ biggest strengths was their ability to win big games away from the friendly confines of Paul Brown Stadium.

Excluding Week 18 at Cleveland with many starters resting, the Bengals went 7-2 in true road games last season, including playoff wins at Tennessee and at Kansas City.

The 2022 Bengals must keep that trend going to make it through the first two months of this coming season, as four of their first six games are on the road.

That stretch includes a Week 6 homecoming for Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and other LSU products when they take on the New Orleans Saints.

One of the NFL’s winningest franchises since 2006, the Saints are in the midst of a major transition after losing quarterback Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton to retirement in recent years. The Payton-Brees combo was a big reason why the Saints had 10 winning seasons during that span, including five straight dating back to the 2017 season, and never lost more than nine games.

Now, the Saints will likely be going with former Bengal Andy Dalton or Jameis Winston at quarterback this fall, while former Raiders head coach Dennis Allen gets his second shot at leading an NFL franchise.

Whoever is throwing passes will have some serious firepower between All-Pro Michael Thomas, slot maestro Jarvis Landry and 2022 top-10 pick Chris Olave.

The backfield 1-2 punch of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram can also win games, especially with what should be a top-10 defense making this a team that can grind out low-scoring wins, something Dalton was accustomed to for a significant portion of his Bengals career.

The real test for Cincinnati is how well the Bengals’ offensive tackle tandem of Jonah Williams and La’el Collins do against one of the best pass-rushing duos in Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport.

All told, this should be a fun one that takes four quarters to decide, but I’m picking the Bengals to come away victorious after suffering their first loss the previous week at Baltimore.

ESPN FPI: Bengals have 43.8% chance to win.

My prediction: Bengals 30, Saints 23

Let us know how you see this Week 6 clash playing out!

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