The Cincinnati Bengals have one of the NFL’s toughest schedules in 2022, so it’s imperative they win their ‘easy’ games.
There may not be an easier game on the entire schedule than Week 7 when the Atlanta Falcons come to Paul Brown Stadium.
After finishing the 2021 season with a 7-10 record, the Falcons traded away franchise quarterback Matt Ryan, while standout receiver Calvin Ridley was suspended for all of 2022 due to gambling.
That’s left the Falcons with easily one of the NFL’s worst rosters, highlighted by a quarterback battle featuring Marcus Mariota vs. third-round rookie and Cincinnati Bearcats legend Desmond Ridder.
Looking throughout the Falcons roster, there’s not a lot to feel good about heading into next season.
Running back/wideout Cordarrelle Patterson is the best thing going for Atlanta’s offense right now, but you have to wonder how much is left in the tank for the 31-year-old offensive weapon.
Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett is still a force in the middle and someone who should be a tough test for the Bengals’ revamped offensive line.
Sidenote: Remember when the Bengals took Marcus Hardison two picks before Jarrett went to Atlanta in Round 4 of the 2015 NFL Draft? Woo-doggy. But hey, it helped the Bengals stink enough to eventually land Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, so maybe it was actually the best pick possible...
Anyhow, back to Atlanta.
There’s really no excuse for the Bengals not to win this game by double digits. Looking at the schedule, the Falcons may very well be 0-6 coming into this one — they’re projected to be underdogs in their first seven games — and already looking ahead to 2023.
Of course, this was exactly the kind of game the Bengals struggled to get up for in 2021, which led to bad losses to the Chicago Bears and New York Jets, as well as a near-crippling home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars before winning with a walk-off field goal.
As long as the Bengals come ready to play, this is one that could be over by halftime.
ESPN FPI: Bengals have a 67.7% chance to win.
My prediction: Bengals 41, Falcons 20
Let us know how you see this one playing out!