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Way-too-early schedule predictions: Bengals at Steelers

Will the Bengals pull off the Steeler sweep for a second-straight year?

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers have faced off 105 times, the first coming back in 1970.

Since the dawn of this AFC rivalry, the Steelers have been in control much of the way, including an 11-game winning streak from 2015-20.

However, the Bengals have won three straight in the series, and I’m predicting them to make it four in a row when the two face off in Week 1 at Paul Brown Stadium. There have been just three prior instances in which the Bengals had a winning streak of four or more games in this series. All three streaks came between 1980-90, the longest being six from 1988-90. The 80s were one of the most successful periods in Bengals history, as it featured two Super Bowl appearances.

The Bengals have a golden opportunity to have that kind of streak this time around. But more importantly, they have a great chance to sweep the series again in 2022 that would help pave the way for another playoff berth and potential AFC North crown.

It seems crazy to think Pittsburgh should be one of the easier teams to beat on the Bengals’ 2022 schedule, but that’s exactly the case, though part of that is just how daunting this 2022 slate is.

In the Bengals’ first 10 games, ESPN’s FPI projects them to be favored six times, including Week 1 vs. the Steelers (69.1%) and the Week 9 rematch (57.7%).

But in the last seven games, the Bengals are projected as favorites just twice, and not by much at 51.6% vs. the Browns in Week 14 and 52.5% vs. the Ravens in Week 18.

So yeah, a strong showing in the first 10 games is highly encouraged if the Bengals want to make it back to the playoffs and defend their AFC crown, and sweeping the Steelers would be a major piece to that puzzle.

Last year’s clash at Heinz Field saw the Bengals win more of a defensive struggle, though the final 24-10 score was not indicative of how much Cincinnati controlled the game.

This time around, I see it being a similar margin with the Bengals coming out on top of this Sunday Night Football clash. It also helps that Cincinnati is coming off a bye in Week 11, giving them an extra week to focus on beating Pittsburgh.

ESPN FPI: Bengals have a 57.7% chance to win.

My prediction: Bengals 24, Steelers 13

My predicted record thus far: 9-1

How do you see this one playing out? Sound off in the poll above and in the comments section!